n 31 years of its independence, Kazakhstan has become a full-fledged and respected member of the international community. Positioned strategically between East and West, we have built good relations with all our neighbours and beyond. Our country, the ninth largest in the world and the size of Western Europe, has transformed remarkably from its Soviet past and is now playing an important role in global trade and diplomacy.
Our strong global position has acted as a solid foundation on which to build our economy and create prospects for domestic and international businesses. In particular, given the size and location of our country, ample opportunities exist in the field of international cargo transportation and the development, extraction, and processing of raw materials, including critical raw materials.
Kazakhstan is currently experiencing a new economic and political rebirth. Over the years of independence, Kazakhstan’s GDP has shown a 17-fold growth. Today, Kazakhstan’s economy is larger than the economies of the other four Central Asian countries combined. Our country accounts for almost 60% of trade turnover in Central Asia. International reserves of our country stand at 90 billion dollars and are the highest per capita reserves in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Despite these successes, we are not standing still. Our government is implementing measures to increase the competitiveness of our economy by limiting state intervention, while also continuing to diversity and de-monopolise our economy.
Supporting and promoting small and medium-sized entrepreneurship is also a key priority. We hope to increase the share of SMEs in GDP up to 40% by 2030.
These measures are ensuring that Kazakhstan remains the number one investment destination in its region. International investors have injected more than 380 billion US dollars in the country’s economy since our independence. This accounts for 70% of the total investment inflow to the Central Asian region. Yet remaining a top investment destination requires constant work, which is why we continue to strengthen Kazakhstan’s industry and simplify investment procedures and policy.
For example, in my capacity as Minister for Industry and Infrastructure Development, I have set the task to develop the transport and logistics potential and the mid- and high-value-added industries.
We identified 23 key metallurgical projects for the production of medium and high value-added goods, including aluminium radiators, wire rods, car parts, batteries, food cans, and other products. Significantly, over 150 projects are being launched this year, including the production of polypropylene, mineral fertilizers, aluminium containers and packaging, car and truck tires, and aluminium and bimetallic heating radiators. These projects are aimed at import substitution and eventual export. Further down the line, we are planning to launch more than 500 projects in 2023-2024, and 117 projects in 2025-2026.
To ensure that we provide the best conditions for investors, 13 free economic zones are currently operating in Kazakhstan, which are represented in almost all regions of the country. They offer exemption from tax liabilities, exemption from customs duties, possibility to attract foreign labour without restrictions, among many other incentives for investors.
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