News ID: 193406
Published: 1213 GMT May 24, 2017

Kazahhstan comes in from the cold

Kazahhstan comes in from the cold

Kazakhstan is perhaps best known as home to a long-serving autocrat with a fetish for grand architectural statements and an economy that is unhealthily dependent on both Russia and oil.

Yet analysts and investors seem to be queuing up to tip the vast central Asian republic — the size of western Europe — as one of the most attractive hotspots in the emerging world.

This comes despite President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has maintained a firm grip on power since Soviet times, overseeing meager economic growth of 1.1 percent last year and gross domestic product, measured in nominal dollars, having fallen 39 percent since 2014 to $134 billion.

The dollar value of Kazakhstan’s exports has slumped by 57 percent since 2012, with imports down 43 percent over the same period, as the first chart shows. Much of this was driven by the fall in world oil prices, but industrial production as a whole has declined for two years running.

The cost of servicing its debt has risen to 19.4 percent of GDP, not helped by the tinge’s 39.6 percent plunge against the dollar since August 2015, depicted in the second chart. Two of three main rating agencies, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s, have the country’s sovereign debt on negative watch, despite downgrading it last year to the lowest notch of investment grade.

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