Kazakhstan bets on construction, agriculture as growth drivers

"Food security has taken centre stage after COVID-19 and Kazakhstan has great possibilities in agriculture," economy minister Aset Irgaliyev said. | Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov photo

NUR-SULTAN, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Kazakhstan hopes that foreign investment and a construction boom will help its economic growth accelerate to more than 5 percent by 2023, economy minister Aset Irgaliyev told Reuters.

The oil-exporting Central Asian nation's economy is expected to grow 3.7-4.0 percent this year, Irgaliyev said in an interview. Next year, the government sees growth at 3.9 percent and in 2023 it aims for an ambitious 5.3 percent.

In January-September, Kazakhstan reported gross domestic product growth of 3.4 percent, driven by both domestic and foreign demand. Growth shrank by 2.6 percent in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The government puts particularly high hopes on the construction sector which it supported during the pandemic by various programmes such as allowing people to withdraw parts of their pension savings to purchase property.

"We have an ambitious goal to build 103.2 million square metres of residential real estate by 2025, this year we are targeting 17 million square metres, up from last year's record 15 million square metres," Irgaliyev said in an interview.

The authorities also want to boost foreign direct investment inflows to 25-30 percent of GDP from last year's 18.4 percent, Irgaliyev said, in particular, by attracting more foreign companies into agriculture amid soaring global food prices.

Kazakhstan, which has an area five times the size of France, is Central Asia's biggest producer of grains and oilseeds.

U.S. firm Tyson Foods has been in talks with the Nur-Sultan government since 2019 about launching a beef processing plant in Kazakhstan.

"Food security has taken centre stage after COVID-19 and Kazakhstan has great possibilities in agriculture," Irgaliyev said.

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