Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Kazakhstani tenge depreciated by -20.7% against the US dollar since 2016 and declined by -7.9% from 2019 to 2020. Kazakhstan’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country. A Central Asian nation, Kazakhstan shares its southern border with Russia.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 79.3% of products exported from Kazakhstan were bought by importers in: China (19.2% of the global total), Italy (14.2%), Russia (10.4%), Netherlands (6.7%), Uzbekistan (4.5%), Turkey (4.5%), India (4.2%), France (4%), Switzerland (3.2%), Greece (3%), Romania (2.7%) and Spain (2.6%).
From a continental perspective, 53.9% of Kazakhstan exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 43.8% were sold to Asian importers. Kazakhstan shipped another 1.7% worth of goods to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (0.3%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.2%) then Oceania mostly Australia (0.03%).
Given Kazakhstan’s population of 18.9 million people, its total $46.9 billion in 2020 exports translates to an estimated $2,500 for every resident in the Central Asian republic.
Kazakhstan’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Kazakhstani global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Kazakhstan.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$27.3 billion (58.2% of total exports)
- Iron, steel: $3.2 billion (6.8%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $3.1 billion (6.7%)
- Copper: $2.8 billion (5.9%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $2.3 billion (5%)
- Cereals: $1.4 billion (2.9%)
- Gems, precious metals: $698.9 million (1.5%)
- Zinc: $620.9 million (1.3%)
- Aluminum: $522.9 million (1.1%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: $516.4 million (1.1%)
Kazakhstan’s top 10 exports accounted for 90.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Gems and precious metals was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 83.2% from 2019 to 2020. In second place for improving export sales was milling products, malt and starches via a 32.9% gain. Kazakhstan’s shipments of zinc posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 22.9%.
The leading decliner among Kazakhstan’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -29.4% drop year over year dragged down by lower international revenues for crude oil.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Kazakhstan’s most valuable export product is crude oil (50.5% of total). In second place was Kazakhstan’s exported refined copper and unwrought alloys (5.8%), petroleum gases (5.3%), radioactive chemical elements (3.7%), iron ferroalloys (3.5%), copper ores and refined petroleum oils (3.1%), wheat (2.4%), precious metal ores and concentrates (1.5%), iron ores and concentrates (1.4%) and refined petroleum oils (also 1.4%).
Overall, Kazakhstan achieved an $8.9 billion trade surplus for 2020 down by -54.2% from $10.4 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$26 billion (Down by -30% since 2019)
- Copper: $2.7 billion (Up by 7.2%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $2.5 billion (Up by 21.9%)
- Iron, steel: $2.2 billion (Down by -4.1%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $2 billion (Up by 7.2%)
- Cereals: $1.3 billion (Down by -1.7%)
- Zinc: $610.1 million (Up by 27.4%)
- Milling products, malt, starches: $488.9 million (Up by 36.2%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $357.6 million (Down by -27.2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $300.7 million (Up by 653.6%)
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-$9 billion (Up by 15.3% since 2019)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$3.2 billion (Down by -22.8%)
- Vehicles: -$2.1 billion (Down by -4.6%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$2.1 billion (Down by -9.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$1.5 billion (Up by 36.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.1 billion (Down by -6.5%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$1 billion (Up by 20.9%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$588.7 million (Down by -3.4%)
- Other chemical goods: -$562.7 million (Up by 8.5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$477 million (Down by -5.8%)
Kazakhstan has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery-related products, notably 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)
In macroeconomic terms, Kazakhstan’s total exported goods represent 9.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($501.8 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 9.4% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 10.7% one year earlier. This seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Kazakhstan’s total economic performance, albeit based on a very short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Kazakhstan’s average unemployment rate was 4.9% at December 2020, up from 4.8% one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Astana is Kazakhstan’s capital city.
See also Germany’s Top 10 Exports,United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports and Top EU Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, Country Profiles, The World Factbook. Accessed on March 6, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 6, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 6, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 6, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 6, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 6, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 6, 2021
Wikipedia, Kazakhstan. Accessed on March 6, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Kazakhstan. Accessed on March 6, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 6, 2021
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Astana, Kazakhstan. Accessed on March 6, 2021