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    Kazakhstan's GDP could double by 2008

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    ASTANA, October 11 (RIA Novosti) - Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said Tuesday that he expects the country's GDP to hit the targeted 20% by 2008, two years ahead of the timeframe set by the government's 2000 Strategic Plan of Development.

    "The GDP growth rate in Kazakhstan in the past five years has averaged 10.3%. This year, GDP per capita will top $3,400, tripling on the 1999 [figure]. Our rates will make it possible to double the nation's GDP as early as 2008, that is, two years ahead of [the timeframe] envisaged in the strategic plan," Nazarbayev told an international conference in the Kazakh capital.

    Kazakhstan enjoyed double-digit growth in 2000-01 - and a solid 9.5% in 2002 - thanks largely to its booming oil sector, but also to economic reform, good harvests and foreign investment.

    According to Nazarbayev, the country now gets more foreign investment than all other CIS members.

    "Kazakhstan accounts for almost 80% of foreign investment in the Central Asian region [that used to be part of the Soviet Union]."

    Kazakhstan has recently embarked on an industrial policy designed to diversify the economy away from overdependence on the oil sector.

    "We are seeking to develop this sector while at the same time taking advantage of the sector's resources to build a new economy that would be viable regardless of the availability of raw materials." Nazarbayev said. "A nation's key asset is not its mineral wealth, but its ability to [think] innovatively."

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