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Country Forecast Kazakhstan February 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Kazakhstan February 2018 Updater

  • February 2018
  • ID: 5345157
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • There are indications that planning for an eventual transition of power from Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president, is under way. How and when this will be enacted remains uncertain, and there is no clear successor.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit's baseline forecast is that Mr Nazarbayev, who is 77, will remain in power until at least 2020, when his current term ends. However, the risks to this forecast have risen. We assume that the elite will reach a consensus on a succession strategy, but increased and more public factional in-fighting remains a risk, as does a re-division of economic assets.
  • Organised opposition to the regime will remain relatively weak, and the potential for mass political unrest is low. However, subdued economic performance in the coming years will undermine support for the government.
  • Kazakhstan will continue to pursue a multi-vector foreign policy, balancing Russia, China and the West. Russia will remain the primary regional security actor, and China will play a growing role in the economy. Moves to integrate further within the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will proceed slowly, and a significant range of trade barriers will continue to undermine the free market.
  • After protests in some cities against amendments to the land code, the government is likely to proceed cautiously with further economic reforms. We believe that the government's privatisation programme will probably not have a significant impact on productivity or competitiveness.
  • The economy grew by 0.9% in 2016, and rebounded by an estimated 4% in 2017. In 2018-22 growth will be constrained compared with pre-2014 growth rates, by subdued credit creation and household deleveraging, but oil output and total exports will rise. Gas exports to China started for the first time in October.
  • We expect the tenge to weaken slightly in 2018 as the Federal Reserve (the US central bank) tightens policy. With small dips in oil prices in 2019-20, we expect the tenge to remain weak against the US dollar, before appreciating in 2021-22.
  • The government will continue to offset falling commercial lending with a targeted stimulus from the National Fund of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NFRK, the sovereign wealth fund). The Single Accumulative Pension Fund (SAPF) will be used to encourage bank lending for businesses and infrastructure.
  • We expect Kazakhstan's current account to remain in deficit throughout 2018-22, averaging 2.4% of GDP, as import demand and negative net income flows offset rising oil exports.

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