Kazakhstan - Country Commercial Guide
Transport and Logistics
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The transport sector of Kazakhstan includes rail, road, marine, aviation and pipeline transport. Transportation industry forms 11% of GDP. Major modes are rails and roads.

Table: Cargo turnover by mode, percent







Air & Marine




Source: 2019 Logistics and Transportation Competitiveness in Kazakhstan, UNECE

In January-February 2021, investments in fixed assets in the field of transport and warehousing reached $184 million, which is 22.1 percent more than a year earlier. Real growth was 17.2 percent. Source: Analytical portal about business and finance.

Kazakhstan is a landlocked country, which suffers from high transport and transit costs. For example, the cost of shipping a container from any city of Central Asia to Shanghai is 5 times more expensive than from Poland or Turkey via ship. At the same time, the country possesses important geostrategic significance, huge natural resources, high transit and transport potential. There was a 47% increase in the number of TEUs transiting through Kazakhstan in 2021 compared to 2020.

Disruptions in major supply chains as a result of War in Ukraine has reinforced Kazakhstan’s efforts to increase capacity on new trade routes west.


Most transit and export-import cargoes are transported by rail: 52.2% of total freight turnover. Kazakhstan’s geographical position allows it ready to play the role of a transcontinental and transit bridge between Europe and Asia. The ain destinations for transit cargo are Uzbekistan (45%), Kyrgyzstan (20%), Turkmenistan (6%), Tajikistan (9%), Afghanistan (5%), Russia (5.6%), and China (4.5%).

Rail transport plays a leading role in Euro-Asian Transport Links (EATL) and the intermodal services sector. Most rail freight are bulk commodity shipments including oil, ferrous, metals, coal, and grain (80%).

The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), also known as the Middle Corridor, offers one of the few realistic alternatives for China-Europe rail freight transportation. Most rail freight are bulk commodity shipments including oil, ferrous, metals, coal, and grain (80 percent).

Opportunities in rail

  • Government of Kazakhstan plans to invest $1.664 billion in railway modernization projects between 2022 and 2025, and about $4 billion on depot and railcar renovation, overhaul of rails and locomotives between 2022 and 2026.
  • EBRD is planning to invest over 100 million euros in state-owned rail operator Kazakhstan Railways (KTZ) to upgrade rail freight routes.


Kazakhstan’s three Caspian Sea ports provide opportunities for development of intermodal transportation and forwarding services.

On March 31, 2022, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan signed a declaration on the “Middle Corridor”. The document emphasizes the importance of cooperation between the parties for the integration of the corridor into the international transport system. Currently three ships with a total capacity of 600 TEU sail between Aktau and Baku, but the number of ships on this route will increase to six from September 2022.

Opportunities in marine

  • Aktau Port plans to increase capacity by investing $16.8 million in construction of a new container hub, $103.2 million for reconstruction of berths and port area dredging.
  • Kuryk Port development plans include $273.5 million construction of a shipbuilding/ship repair plant, acquisition of four to eight $40 million ferries, construction of an additional five universal berths with $90 million investment, construction of a $273.5 shipyard.


According to the Civil Aviation Committee, in the first six months of 2022, Kazakhstan’s airlines have carried around 4.6 million passengers, 9 percent more than in the same period of 2021. The country runs 498 weekly flights with 28 countries.

The air transportation sector is growing but has many obsolete aircraft. There are 23 airports; 17 meet ICAO standards and can service international flights. National airlines serve a wide network of international and domestic routes. Air corridors connect Africa, Europe, Russia, Southeast and Central Asia. There is potential to develop air cargo, which projects higher profitability than passengers.

In January 2022, the Government of Kazakhstan ratified and signed into law the Open Skies Agreement between the Government of Republic of Kazakhstan and the Government of the United States. The agreement is a first for Kazakhstan and paves the way for eventual direct passenger flights with an unlimited number of frequencies, destinations and airlines between Kazakhstan and the United States. The ratification of the Open Skies Agreement is an important first step toward its goal in establishing direct flights between both countries.   However, before direct flights can take place Kazakhstan’s aviation sector will need to receive Category 1 certification following a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA).  At least one airport, likely Nur-Sultan Nazarbayev International, will need to work with the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) to achieve a favorable Foreign Airport Assessment.  While the government of Kazakhstan has shown high-level political interest in initiating direct flights, this process will take time to complete.

Kazakhstan’s aviation industry is recovering after a three-year downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the industry recovers, flights are resuming, and new flight destinations are opening. The country’s international airports have made much progress has been made to modernize and expand. Now, the development and expansion of cargo terminals is a priority for the country and is underway at two of the biggest airports: Almaty International Airport (Almaty), and Nur-Sultan Nazarbayev International Airport (Nur-Sultan Nazarbayev).

The Almaty International Airport, based Kazakhstan’s financial and commercial hub of Almaty, also has great potential for the development of cargo transportation, as it is the busiest airport in the Central Asian region. In 2019, it served 6.4 million passengers and transported more than 69,000 tons of cargo.

Opportunities in aviation

  • The International Finance Corporation and EBRD are providing a combined total of $372.2 million financing package to Almaty International Airport to build a new terminal to strengthen Kazakhstan’s connectivity and economic competitiveness.
  • National airline Air Astana is planning to buy two freighters in 2024.
  • There is high interest among Kazakhstan’s airports and major airlines in collaborating with American logistics companies, to establish Kazakhstan as an air cargo hub between China and Europe. To enable same, Kazakhstan’s airports and airlines may provide deep discounts on warehouse services, and low prices for aviation fuel, navigation services and cargo terminal services. Furthermore, the Government of Kazakhstan may grant investors with tax preferences for corporate income tax, land tax, property tax, exemption from VAT for special economic zones (SEZ) members and reduction of tax liabilities.


The share of logistics in GDP is small. The government still plans to make Kazakhstan the largest transit and logistics hub in Central Asia, acting as a bridge between Europe and Asia. One of the key objectives is the creation of efficient transport and logistics infrastructure based on the “spoke” principle.

There are plans to create industrial transportation logistics facilities outside Kazakhstan through joint ventures in the region and through the world hubs in key transit points. Measures taken have made it possible to significantly improve the country’s position in the Logistics Performance Index (LPI) from 133 in 2007 to 71 in 2018.

Kazakhstan Railways (KTZ) will coordinate freight flows, provide loading of transport infrastructure and increase efficiency and competitiveness of Kazakhstan’s transport corridors. The multimodal operator will provide consolidation of end-to-end single tariff for all types of transport and optimize transportation costs across the country and will simplify the passage cargo and customs clearance. At the same time, the development of the transport and logistics system of the republic will promote port and terminal infrastructure in Kazakhstan.

In addition to creating large international logistics hubs in Kazakhstan, great attention is paid to the development of internal transport and logistics networks. Transport and logistics centers will be built in Kazakhstan’s major cities: Aktobe, Pavlodar, Almaty, Uralsk, Atyrau, Aktau, Kostanay, Ust-Kamenogorsk.

Hubs will be created for storing, processing and consolidating goods in regional centers. In the future, these large regional logistics the centers will be connected to the central hub in Nur-Sultan by the “beam” principle.

Construction and reconstruction of roads between central and regional logistics hubs are planned under the Nurly Zhol program 2020-2025. Regional logistics centers will create a logistics infrastructure, through which goods will be distributed to smaller logistics centers dedicated to the storage, processing, and consolidation of goods.


  • A new trade and logistics hub will be built on the border of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The new complex will contribute to the development of the agro-industrial complex, as well as the modernization of industrial cooperation.
  • The International Center for Trade and Economic Cooperation (ICTEC) “Central Asia” on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is planned to be built with private investment. The center will be located on an area of ​​400 hectares, and the throughput capacity will be 35 thousand people and 5 thousand trucks per day in both directions. It is expected that this center will become a large industrial, trade and logistics platform, where Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are implementing joint investment projects. The priority areas for industrial cooperation are the manufacturing sector, agribusiness, and light industry.

Multilateral Development Banks and Financing Government Sales

Price, payment terms, and financing can be a significant factor in winning a government contract. Many governments finance public works projects through borrowing from the Multilateral Development Banks (MDB). A helpful guide for working with the MDBs is the Trade Finance Guide. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s (USDOC) International Trade Administration (ITA) has a Foreign Commercial Service Officer stationed at each of the five different Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs): the African Development Bank; the Asian Development Bank; the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; the Inter-American Development Bank; and the World Bank.

Learn more by contacting:


EBRD $45.8 million investment in KTZ restructuring bonds

U.S. Foreign Commercial Service in Almaty, Commercial Assistant for Transportation and Logistics, Alem Abubakirova, alem.abubakirova@trade.gov

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