Oil and Gas Operations: Kazakhstan’s Top 10 Exports

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Kazakhstan shipped US$36.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016, down by 14.9% since 2009 when the Great Recession kicked in but down by -20% from 2015 to 2016.

Kazakhstan’s top 10 exports accounted for 91.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Kazakhstan’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $460.7 billion in 2016 (on a purchasing power parity basis). Therefore, exports accounted for about 8% of total Kazakhstani economic output.

From a continental perspective, 69.8% of Kazakhstani exports by value were delivered to European countries while 27.4% were sold to Asian importers. Kazakhstan shipped another 2.4% worth of goods to North America, with 0.2% going to customers in Africa.

Given Kazakhstan’s population of 18.4 million people, its total $36.8 billion in 2016 exports translates to an estimated $2,000 for every resident in that country.

Kazakhstan’s unemployment rate was 4.9% as of January 2017 according to Trading Economics.

Kazakhstan’s Top 10 Exports

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Kazakhstani global shipments during 2016. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Kazakhstan.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$22.3 billion (60.7% of total exports)
  2. Iron, steel: $2.8 billion (7.5%)
  3. Inorganic chemicals: $2.4 billion (6.6%)
  4. Copper: $1.9 billion (5.2%)
  5. Ores, slag, ash: $1.2 billion (3.2%)
  6. Cereals: $817 million (2.2%)
  7. Gems, precious metals: $649.6 million (1.8%)
  8. Zinc: $553.9 million (1.5%)
  9. Milling products, malt, starches: $518.3 million (1.4%)
  10. Aluminum: $382.5 million (1%)

Aluminum was the fastest-growing among Kazakhstan’s top 10 export categories, up 96.8% for the 7-year period starting in 2009.

In second place for improving export sales was zinc which gained 38.3%, followed by exported copper up 23.7%.

Led by wheat, barley, rice and corn, the cereals category appreciated 20.8% from 2009 to 2016.

Gems and precious metals was the fastest-declining category, weighed down by a drastic decrease in the value of gold exports.

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 is 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. Overall, Kazakhstan achieved an $11.6 billion trade surplus for 2016 down -21.5% from the $14.8 billion Kazakhstani surplus in 2009.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$20.8 billion (Down by -23.4% since 2009)
  2. Inorganic chemicals: $2.1 billion (Up by 14.9%)
  3. Iron, steel: $2.1 billion (Down by -10.8%)
  4. Copper: $1.9 billion (Up by 24.8%)
  5. Cereals: $805.8 million (Up by 28.8%)
  6. Gems, precious metals: $605.6 million (Down by -32.6%)
  7. Zinc: $551 million (Up by 37.9%)
  8. Ores, slag, ash: $499 million (Down by -70%)
  9. Milling products, malt, starches: $498.3 million (Down by -11.1%)
  10. Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $281.9 million (Up by 418.8%)

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.

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$4.2 billion (Down by -20.6% since 2009)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2.2 billion (Up by 0.5%)
  3. Articles of iron or steel: -$1.8 billion (Down by -60%)
  4. Vehicles : -$972.3 million (Down by -35.9%)
  5. Pharmaceuticals: -$938.9 million (Up by 26.3%)
  6. Plastics, plastic articles: -$899.9 million (Up by 20.2%)
  7. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$721.4 million (Up by 19%)
  8. Other chemical goods: -$429 million (Up by 14.6%)
  9. Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: -$427.9 million (Down by -11.9%)
  10. Fruits, nuts: -$408 million (Up by 333.1%)

Kazakhstan has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery-related products, notably taps and valves, air or vacuum pumps and computers.

Kazakhstani Export Companies

According to Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, the following companies are examples of leading Kazakhstani companies:

  • KazMunaiGas Exploration (Oil and gas operations)
  • Bta Bank (Regional bank)
  • Halyk Bank (Regional bank)

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.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 11, 2017

Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, Central Asia: Kazakhstan,. Accessed on March 11, 2017

Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 11, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 11, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 11, 2017

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Kazakhstan. Accessed on March 11, 2017

World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Astana, Kazakhstan,. Accessed on March 11, 2017

by DANIEL WORKMAN, WTEx

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