Legal Market Overview
Kazakhstan remains one of the biggest success stories in the CIS region, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. This is evidenced by the general political stability in the region, which has resulted in significant international investment into its natural resources, and oil and gas sectors. Additionally, its uranium and other rare earth metal deposits remain an important resource.
The Covid-19 pandemic, as well as falling prices in oil, led to drops in Kazakhstan’s oil and gas output, as well as a temporary halt to the major Belt and Road Initiative, one of the most significant infrastructure projects designed to link China and Europe. These freezes to exports and construction lead to, in comparison to the measured economic growth of 4.5% in 2019, a contraction of approximately -2.5% in 2020, as reported by The World Bank. The pandemic also hit the people of Kazakhstan quite hard, decimating its retail, hospitality, and transportation sectors, leading to an increase in the poverty rate in 2020 to approximately 12-14% of the population.
Launched in 2018, the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) remains a significant investment by the Kazakh government. The AIFC was designed to provide a regulatory framework for the financial services industries in Kazakhstan, including the Astana International Exchange, a regulated exchange platform for international investors to access capital markets in Kazakhstan, and the International Arbitration Centre. While some lawyers remain sceptical about whether the AIFC is viable without government support, all agree that the repeated government support of the AIFC will continue to make it a key resource for international clients seeking investment into Kazakhstan outside its plentiful natural resources into the future.
Local law firms provide full coverage for clients seeking legal help on investing in the Kazakhstan market, these include AEQUITAS, Sayat Zholshy & Partners, AGZ / Zan Hub, and Bolotov & Partners LLP. They compete against a number of notable CIS-region law firms, such as Kinstellar, Dentons, White & Case Kazakhstan LLP, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.