Library of Congress – Federal Research Division
Country Profile: Kazakhstan, December 2006
reserve was US$8.7 billion in mid-2006. The balance of portfolio investment, on the other hand, has been increasingly negative in the early 2000s.
External Debt: After rising steadily for several years, in 2005 the external debt reached US$41.7 billion. This figure had been US$22 billion in 2003 and US$26 billion in 2004. Most of that debt is inter-company loans rather than public debt. Kazakhstan has borrowed regularly on international markets, and its bond rating was raised to “investment” level in 2002, improving access to international capital markets.
Foreign Investment: In the post-Soviet era, Kazakhstan has received about 80 percent of the total foreign investment going to Central Asia. Led by the international oil industry, foreign investment has increased steadily during that time. In the early 2000s, the largest investors have been from the United States (a total of US$12 billion by 2005), the Netherlands, and Britain. Between 2003 and 2005, ChevronTexaco, a major investor since 1993, invested an estimated US$3 billion in Kazakhstan’s oil industry. By 2005 foreign investment was responsible for some 85 percent of oil production. However, in 2005 foreign direct investment decreased sharply from US$4 billion to US$1.7 billion as energy companies recognized economic risks of further investment. In the early 2000s, investment also grew rapidly in the consumer goods and transportation and communications industries. In non-energy sectors of heavy industry, Ispat Karmet, the largest steel company, is owned by the Netherlands company Mittal Steel, and the British Kazakhmys company owns Kazakhstan’s largest copper processing operation. Russia’s investment in Kazakhstan, totaling US$2.2 billion since 1992, has been only in the oil industry and only by the Lukoil company. China’s purchase of PetroKazakhstan in 2005 made that country a large-scale investor.
Currency and Exchange Rate: The national currency is the tenge, which since 2003 has gradually appreciated against the dollar. In December 2006, the exchange rate was 128 tenge per US$1.
Fiscal Year: Calendar year.
TRANSPORTATION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Overview: The transportation infrastructure does not meet the needs of a vast country whose per-capita volume of road and railroad shipping is one of the highest in the world and whose climatic extremes put particular stress on transportation infrastructure. The telecommunications infrastructure is similarly inadequate to meet contemporary needs. Critical repairs and expansion have not received adequate funding or organized planning, although international banks have funded some projects.
Roads: In 2005 Kazakhstan had about 90,000 kilometers of roads, 84,100 kilometers of which were hard surface. Of the 23,000 kilometers of main highways, an estimated two-thirds are in poor condition. The major artery, the 1,222-kilometer road between Astana and Almaty, was rehabilitated in the early 2000s with funding from three international banks. With assistance from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, another important highway is