Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States, on December 25, 1991, was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan’s independence. The United States opened its Embassy in Almaty in January 1992 and then relocated to Astana in 2006. The United States opened a Consulate General in Almaty in 2009. In the years since Kazakhstan's independence, the two countries have developed a strong and wide-ranging bilateral relationship.
U.S.-Kazakhstani cooperation in security and nuclear non-proliferation is a cornerstone of the relationship, as evidenced by Kazakhstan’s participation in the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C, in 2010 and again in Seoul, South Korea in 2012. Kazakhstan showed leadership when it renounced its nuclear weapons in 1993 and closed the Semipalatinsk Test Site (STS). The United States assisted Kazakhstan in the removal of nuclear warheads, weapons-grade materials, and their supporting infrastructure. In 1994, Kazakhstan transferred more than a half-ton of weapons-grade uranium to the United States. In 1995 Kazakhstan removed its last nuclear warheads and, with U.S. assistance, completed the sealing of 181 nuclear test tunnels at the STS in May 2000. In the following decade, the United States and Kazakhstan worked together to seal 40 more nuclear test tunnels at the STS. Kazakhstan signed the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (1992), the START Treaty (1992), the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1993), the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2001). Under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, the United States spent $240 million to assist Kazakhstan in eliminating weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass destruction-related infrastructure. Kazakhstan's military participates in the U.S.'s International Military Education and Training program and Foreign Military Financing.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Kazakhstan is currently the United States’ 78th largest goods trading partner, with $2.5 billion in total two-way trade in 2011. The stock of U.S. foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan was $9.6 billion in 2010 (latest data available), up 23.9% from 2009. These companies are concentrated in the oil and gas, business services, telecommunications, and electrical energy sectors. Kazakhstan has made progress in creating a favorable investment climate, although serious problems, including arbitrary enforcement of laws, remain. A U.S.-Kazakhstan Bilateral Investment Treaty and a Treaty on the Avoidance of Dual Taxation have been in place since 1994 and 1996, respectively. In 2001, Kazakhstan and the United States established the U.S.-Kazakhstan Energy Partnership. Accession to the World Trade Organization remains a top priority for the government of Kazakhstan.
Sections 402 and 409 of the United States 1974 Trade Act require that the President submit semi-annually a report to Congress on continued compliance with the Act's freedom of emigration provisions by those countries, including Kazakhstan, that fall under the Trade Act's Jackson-Vanik Amendment. The U.S. Commercial Service provides U.S. business internships for Kazakhstanis, supports Kazakhstani businesses through a matchmaker program and disseminates information on U.S. goods and services.
U.S. Assistance to Kazakhstan
U.S. Government assistance to Kazakhstan focuses on combating transnational threats (trafficking in persons, narcotics, terrorists, and weapons of mass destruction materiel), improving the functioning of the judiciary, promoting an increased public role for civil society and mass media, maintaining Kazakhstan’s open investment and trade environment, and helping the government provide effective social services. For more detailed information on U.S. Government assistance to Kazakhstan, please see the annual reports to Congress on U.S. Government Assistance to and Cooperative Activities with Eurasia, which are available in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs section on the State Department's website. A fact sheet on U.S. assistance to Kazakhstan can be found here.
Kazakhstan's Membership in International Organizations
Kazakhstan and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations. Kazakhstan is a member of the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and North Atlantic Cooperation Council. Kazakhstan held the chairmanship of the OSCE in 2010 and held an OSCE summit in Astana in December 2010. It is an active participant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Partnership for Peace program. Kazakhstan also engages in regional security dialogue with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Kazakhstan, in June, 2011 became the chairman of the Foreign Ministers’ Council of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and in 2012 hosted a ministerial meeting for the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. Kazakhstan is also a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The United States and the European Union worked together with the Ministry of Environmental Protection to establish an independent, nonprofit, and nonpolitical Regional Environmental Center in Kazakhstan to strengthen civil society and support sustainable development by promoting public awareness and participation in environmental decision-making among the countries of Central Asia. Kazakhstan is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The Kazakhstan maintains an embassy at 1401 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-232-5488).
More information about Kazakhstan is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Department of State Kazakhstan Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Kazakhstan Page
USAID Kazakhstan Page
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Export.gov International Offices Page