The world’s largest landlocked nation, the Republic of Kazakhstan shipped US$61 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -23.3% setback since 2014 but a 26.1% improvement from 2017 to 2018.
Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country. A Central Asian nation, Kazakhstan shares its southern border with Russia.
From a continental perspective about two-thirds (66.1%) of Kazakhstani exports by value were delivered to European countries while 31.4% were sold to importers in Asia. Kazakhstan shipped much smaller percentages to North America (1.8%), Africa (0.6%), Latin America (0.1%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, the Oceania (0.01%) led by Australia.
Given Kazakhstan’s population of 18.7 million people, its total $61 billion in 2018 exports translates to an estimated $3,300 for every resident in the Central Asian republic.
In macroeconomic terms, Kazakhstan’s total exported goods represent 12% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($508.6 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 12% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 14.1% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Kazakhstan’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Kazakhstan also provided $7.3 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 1.4% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Kazakhstan’s unemployment rate was 4.8% at May 2019 down from 4.9% as of July 2018, according to Trading Economics.
Kazakhstan’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Kazakhstani global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Kazakhstan.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$42.7 billion (70.1% of total exports)
- Iron, steel: $4.2 billion (6.8%)
- Copper: $2.5 billion (4.2%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $2.1 billion (3.5%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $2.1 billion (3.4%)
- Cereals: $1.3 billion (2.1%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $649.6 million (1.1%)
- Aluminum: $634.8 million (1%)
- Gems, precious metals: $523.2 million (0.9%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: $466.2 million (0.8%)
Kazakhstan’s top 10 exports accounted for 93.9% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Salt, sulphur, stone and cement was the fastest-growing among Kazakhstan’s top 10 export categories thank to its 78.5% appreciation from 2017 to 2018 propelled by increased international sales of sulphur and cement.
In second place for improving export sales was cereals which gained 56.3% led by wheat and barley, followed by exported mineral fuels including oil up 39.3% via exporting global sales of crude oil and petroleum gas.
Leading Kazakhstan’s declining top export categories was gems and precious metals (down -12%), weighed down by smaller sales of silver on global markets.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Kazakhstan’s most valuable export product is crude oil (62% of total). In second place was Kazakhstan’s exported petroleum gases (4.9%), refined copper and unwrought alloys (4%), iron ferroalloys (3.6%), radioactive chemical elements (2.2%) refined petroleum oils (2%) then copper ores and concentrates (1.9%).
Overall, Kazakhstan achieved a $28.4 billion trade surplus for 2018 up by 49.6% from $19 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Kazakhstani product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$41 billion (Up by 41.8% since 2017)
- Iron, steel: $3 billion (Down by -3.7%)
- Copper: $2.5 billion (Up by 0.4%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $1.7 billion (Down by -3.2%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $1.3 billion (Up by 6.9%)
- Cereals: $1.3 billion (Up by 56%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $534.5 million (Up by 114%)
- Gems, precious metals: $463.8 million (Down by -10.8%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: $441.5 million (Down by -4.8%)
- Aluminum: $362.5 million (Up by 25%)
Kazakhstan has highly positive net exports in the international trade of mineral fuels, particularly crude oil and petroleum gases. In turn, these cashflows indicate Kazakhstan’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil product category.
Below are exports from Kazakhstan that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Kazakhstan’s goods trail Kazakhstani importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$4.9 billion (Up by 9.9% since 2017)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$3.6 billion (Up by 28%)
- Vehicles: -$2 billion (Up by 16.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1.9 billion (Up by 27.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$1.1 billion (Up by 7.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.1 billion (Up by 9.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$849.5 million (Down by -2.8%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$531.7 million (Up by 7.5%)
- Other chemical goods: -$520.9 million (Down by -16.5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: -$517.4 million (Down by -7.7%)
Kazakhstan has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery-related products, notably the taps and valves, air or vacuum pumps subcategory and computers.
Kazakhstani Export Companies
According to Forbes Global 2000 rankings, the following companies are examples of leading Kazakhstani companies:
- Bta Bank (Regional bank)
- Halyk Bank (Regional bank)
- KazMunaiGas Exploration (Oil and gas operations)
Wikipedia also lists exporters from Kazakhstan. Selected examples are shown below:
- Bogatyr Access Komir (Coal mining)
- KazakhGold (Gold mining)
- Kazatomprom (Uranium, rare earth metals)
- KazTransOil (Oil transportation)
Astana is Kazakhstan’s capital city.
See also Germany’s Top 10 Exports,United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports and Top EU Export Countries
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 30, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 29, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 30, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Wikipedia, Kazakhstan. Accessed on March 30, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Kazakhstan. Accessed on March 30, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 29, 2019
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Astana, Kazakhstan. Accessed on March 30, 2019