The Geopolitics of Hydrocarbons – The Economic Development of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan

by Kristian Skovsted

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2014
Keywords: Natural resources; hydrocarbon; resource curse; geopolitics; Global Political Economy; China; terms of trade; Central Asia; Kazakhstan; Turkmenistan
Record ID: 1122443
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/16099


This investigation explores how the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan utilise their abundant hydrocarbon resource endowments to spur economic development in the context of the global strive for natural resources. It takes departure in the observation that the prevailing assumption of the detrimental impact of natural resource dependence on economic development, also denoted as the so-called 'resource curse', is fundamentally challenged by the current Chinese and global demand for natural resources, which has changed the terms of trade of commodities vis-à-vis that of manufacturing goods. Based on an analysis of the geopolitical context, Soviet legacy, development strategies and economic development of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, respectively, the key finding of this report is that the possible negative outcomes of hydrocarbon dependence lies in the management of the resources and not in the resources per se. While both countries have been partly successful in utilising their resources to spur economic development, neither have steered clear of the pitfalls of the resource curse, though Kazakhstan on several key indicators has outperformed Turkmenistan in terms of economic development.