Much of Kazakhstan’s wealth lies underneath the ground in the form of oil, gas and minerals. After gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country’s state-run companies formed joint ventures with many of the world’s largest companies energy and mining group eager to do business in this new, promising market.
Among the early entrants into Kazakhstan was Japanese trading house Marubeni, which set up its Almaty representative office in 1993. One of the company’s earliest projects was the financing and construction of the Astana International Airport in 2002. The airport renovation was significant. Once seen as a backwater city during the Soviet era, Astana became a regional transport hub with an airport that clearly showed its ambition to grow into a world-class metropolis.
Today, Marubeni, in cooperation with KazMunaiGas, Sinopec, and KazStroy Service, is in the final stages of upgrading the Atyrau oil refinery located in western Kazakhstan. The 1.7 billion-dollar project will soon process Euro-5 grade petroleum products.
A hallmark of Japanese investment in any country is in the introduction of world-class technology and know-how. This is especially true in Kazakhstan’s uranium mining industry where Marubeni supplied advanced equipment, like custom-made drilling machines, to state-run KazAtomProm in 2008.
Thanks to Kazakhstan’s friendly business climate, Japanese investors, such as Marubeni, built very strong relationships with both the government and local businesses. In turn, the Japanese presence in the country’s energy and transportation sectors has benefited millions of Kazakhs through new jobs and an improved quality of life.