How Astana Is Leading The Way In Central Asia
Kazakhstan, which lies at the center of Eurasian integration, is a mix of privatization and protectionism, where the state welfare fund is trying to cut state domination in some industries and protect others
Kazakhstan sits at the heartland of the Great Game of the 21st century, which is all about Eurasia interconnectivity and integration. Astana is a member of both the China-driven New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, and the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union.
Kazakhstan, the “snow leopard economy” as branded by President Nursultan Nazarbayev over the past decade, could not be more quintessentially Eurasian, its landlocked steppes crisscrossed by 60% of China to Europe rail cargo.
The country also functions as a sort of massive power station for the New Silk Roads, overflowing with oil and gas but also significantly investing in solar, wind and nuclear power.
Astana happens to be the only financial hub between Moscow and Beijing, boasting the Astana International Financial Centre, where the Shanghai Stock Exchange is a major investor and Chinese banks and businesses are listed.
A fascinating mix of privatization and protectionism is also in play.
Samruk Kazyna, the Kazakh national welfare fund, is seeking to reduce the government’s share of the economy, which ranges from energy to banking, from 90% to 20%, even as Astana has made it clear that some strategic commodities and industries are closed to foreign, especially Chinese, investment.
With all that as background, it’s more than natural that Kazakhstan’s unique Eurasian crossroads status has been discussed in detail at the Astana Club.
Its 2018 report, ‘Toward a Greater Eurasia: How to Build a Common Future?’, focuses on everything from geoeconomics and the Central Asian renaissance to geopolitical and security risks. Of particular interest is a new report on the global risks ahead for Eurasia.
Kazakhstan and the ‘stans’ between Russia and China. Map: University of Texas
The Eurasian Davos
There’s near universal consensus across the Global South,