Kazakhstan-US Trade Relations

Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) is a status granted by the United States which provides recipients with preferential trade treatment such as lower tariffs and fewer trade barriers, providing a significant boost to a country’ economy.

A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Congress to grant simultaneous PNTR status to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan – something all three countries seek. However, Kazakhstan’s actions could pose a major threat to the bill’s success.

As the largest economy in the region, Kazakhstan has significant influence over Central Asia’s economic future. Thanks to Kazakhstan’s abundant natural resources and geographical location it has the potential to be an attractive trade and investment partner with the United States. However, concerns about Kazakhstan’s treatment of U.S. investors, such as Argentem Creek Partners and AES Corporation, could make the U.S. Congress unwilling to grant PNTR to Kazakhstan, which could in turn prevent Uzbekistan and Tajikistan from receiving PNTR status. This would damage the hopes of both countries to expand their trade relations and boost investment.

In recent years, Uzbekistan has undertaken a range of reforms as part of the transition to a private sector-led economy that include efforts to increase competition and improve property rights. Tajikistan is the poorest country in Central Asia but has considerable growth potential thanks to a young population and abundant mineral resources, including gold and silver. Both countries would gain significantly from PNTR.

Resolution of Tristangate would signal that Kazakhstan is open for business and is serious about treating investors fairly.