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Kazakhstan

Poverty in Kazakhstan, the richest country in central Asia and the largest in terms of territory, has been primarily driven by government policies tailored to the needs of large corporations in the extractive industry, rather than ordinary people. A turn toward big business was justified after independence in 1991, when the government of Kazakhstan adopted economic reforms of a rapid transition to a market economy. Crippled by hyperinflation, a crisis of nonpayment, and severance of economic ties, the government was looking for alternative sources of capital, as well as for opportunities to sell its products abroad.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) provided a useful option for the cash-strapped country. Kazakhstan had the sixth-largest volume of natural resources but also had high unemployment and inflation rates. Investors put ...

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