Kazakhstan has high ambitions in the China’s Belt and Road initiative, as it is geographically an ideal junction between China and the West and its interest in the Belt and Road is indisputable, with the Kazakh government already involved in Nurly Zhol (the Path of Light), a US$9 billion domestic economic stimulus plan to develop and modernize roads, railways, etc.
Kazakhstan’s economy has been suffering from oil price declines since late 2013 and its future economic growth, therefore, depends on the development of infrastructure and regional trade. The country aims to become the largest business and transit hub of the Central Asia region, a bridge between Europe and Asia. It considers China’s Belt and Road initiative as a means to this end.
Kazakhstan is important for the energy security of China. Its oil, gas, coal and uranium reserves are among the 10 largest in the world, and it has a strategic geographical location to control oil and gas flows from Central Asia to the East and the West. Its geographical proximity, the safety of transportation routes and the absence of any hostile rivals in the region are the main advantages of Kazakh energy for China. That is why, even years before President Xi Jinping’s official declaration of the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative in 2013 in Astana, China had already begun to invest heavily in oil & gas infrastructure in Kazakhstan.
Shaimerden Chikanayev is a partner and head of GRATA Law Firm’s banking & finance practice. He supports companies with their corporate finance and commercial transactions across central Asia. He can be contacted on +7 (701) 787 8020 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org