The 7th WIEF 2011 will be held for the first time in Central Asia, in one of the most successful countries of the region - Kazakhstan. Blessed with vast natural resources such as petroleum and a rich variety of mineral resources, in particular uranium, of which the country is the world's number one exporter, Kazakhstan is on its path to a positive economic growth trajectory.
But where many countries fail, Kazakhstan prevails in its effort in trying to reduce its heavy dependence on the extractive industries. Equipped with a strategic national economic plan towards 2020, Kazakhstan is trying to phase out its dependence on these heavy duty industries in the long-run by efficiently utilising the proceeds from the extractive industries to develop its manufacturing sector among others. Unlike many countries which rely heavily on foreign labour and expertise, Kazakhstan makes a conscious effort to look inwards and develop local talents and competent manpower to spur the economy. This is why Kazakhstan rightly deserves its no.1 world ranking as the most improved economy of the year from the World Bank's 'Doing Business 2011' Report.
Kazakhstan has another strategic advantage namely its economic partnership with big economic powers such as Russia. Ratified in early 2010, the customs union between Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus will provide a gateway to a combined market of 170 million people with a combined GDP of nearly USD2 trillion. Despite being a landlocked country, Kazakhstan is very much connected to the international community through land and air. Of particular significance is the International Transport Corridor (ITC) North-South Route which officially began construction in 2000, linking together important economies such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran and India by road thus greatly facilitating cargo transportation across borders.