The Platform

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Kazakhstan is shedding the narrative that the country will forever live in the shadows of its more powerful neighbors.

The Central Asian giant, Kazakhstan, stands at a pivotal juncture. With a strategic goal to double its economy by 2029 to a staggering $450 billion, it beckons the global investor community to witness its metamorphosis. By the end of 2023, the nation has already surged past the $259 billion mark, a robust 15% year-on-year increase. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that per capita GDP, which stood at nearly $13,000 in 2023, will climb significantly by 2028. This growth trajectory is not just a beacon for potential investors but also a testament to Kazakhstan’s burgeoning economic landscape.

The nation’s audacious economic overhaul pivots on two cardinal directions. First, the implementation of large-scale industrial projects is complemented by an expansive infrastructure development plan. This vision is being meticulously sculpted through intense consultations with big business, institutional investors, and the expert community.

A critical facet of this strategy is the art of attracting investments, primarily through privatization and asset repatriation. The establishment of an investment headquarters, empowered by a presidential decree, is indicative of Kazakhstan’s commitment to fostering an investment-friendly climate and ensuring the high-quality execution of these ventures.

The second direction involves systemic reforms intended to embed new “rules of the game” for the economy. The government is crafting a new tax code, aimed at recalibrating the state-business relationship, moving away from the myopic fiscal approach, and striking a balance between investor-friendly conditions and sustaining budgetary needs.

Kazakhstan’s political landscape is also witnessing a renaissance. The formation of the National Council of Public Trust and amendments to laws on elections and political parties underscore a deliberate stride toward democratization. Discussions around the oligopolistic tendencies are now open, signaling a shift toward transparency and fairness. The constitutional reform has recalibrated the political system, embedding checks and balances by reconstituting the Constitutional Court and expanding the powers of the Mazhilis (the lower house of Parliament). These reforms, undeniably irreversible, assure a more equitable political structure.

A significant move towards political openness is the adoption of the new law on rallies, replacing the erstwhile permit system with a mere notification procedure for peaceful assemblies. Dispelling rumors of a constitutional referendum that could potentially extend the president’s term, Kazakhstan reaffirms its commitment to political stability, which is paramount for the business and investment milieu.

Kazakhstan’s multi-vector foreign policy adeptly maintains equilibrium among key geopolitical players, including China, Russia, and Western countries. In today’s fraught geopolitical climate, Kazakhstan’s strategic cooperation with all, especially its neighbors, is more critical than ever.

The nation’s geopolitical astuteness is also evident in its increased relevance of the “C5+” format, acknowledging Central Asia as a powerhouse of trade, investment, and innovation. As the world’s gaze turns to this region, the C5+ dialogue platform’s demand escalates, signifying Central Asia’s unique position on the global stage.

In 2024, Kazakhstan will preside over several influential regional and international bodies, hosting the Astana International Forum in June. The event will witness a confluence of state leaders and global corporate titans. Additionally, the collaboration with France to organize the “One Water Summit” at the United Nations General Assembly underscores Kazakhstan’s proactive role in the global climate dialogue.

Kazakhstan, with its strategic economic and political initiatives, is crafting an enviable narrative of growth and stability. It is not just reshaping its destiny but is also poised to become a fulcrum of regional and international geopolitics. The nation’s ambitious endeavors to double its GDP resonates with the story of a phoenix rising – a metamorphosis that promises prosperity not just within its borders, but also offering lucrative opportunities for global stakeholders. The narrative of Kazakhstan is one of transformation, and the world is invited to partake in its unfolding economic saga.

Theo Casablanca is a blogger who lives in Brasília.