Foreign Policy Blogs

Kazakhstan's strategy to diversify trade

A new Asian Tiger?Kazakhstan-India trade turnover has gone from USD 120 to 210 million–a 74% increase, from last year to the year before. Kazakhstan is working hard to develop further bilateral trade ties with India.  Though such trade naturally includes petroleum market trade, Kazakhstan is developing an attractive trade diplomacy for other industries, including special economic zones (SEZs) for textiles, metallurgy, oilfield equipment manufacture, food industry, construction, and pharmaceuticals/biotechnology.  

The Times of India published a short, very explicit interview with Kazakhstan's ambassador to India, Mr. Ulmarov, on Kazakhstan's trade and diplomacy aims.   And if you want to know how it's done, this is a good place to start.  A state that takes a proactive approach in courting industry gives itself a chance to choose which market actors with whom they negotiate.  An attractive partner is well-funded and willing to share technical expertise, hire local workforce, and, like the state, is looking for long-term relations.

Another positive aspect to Kazakhstan's strategy is that they are basing many of their SEZs on fields with which they have experience and/or a natural stake. Textile development, petrochemicals and equipment, for instance, have a domestic resource base with Kazakhstan's cotton and petroleum industries.   Developing a partnership with India in pharmaceuticals is canny in a different way: Kazakhstan is a prime customer of Indian pharmaceutical companies.  Indian companies could well consider a location strategy that includes factories inside one of their best markets. 

Last week, a trade delegation from India visited Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan (gas projects, cotton), and Azerbaijan (new Caspian oilfield investment).  The delegation included corporate and state representatives.

See also: Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Republic of India
Official newspage for Kazakhstan's accession to the WTO