* High commodity prices fuel speedy Kazakh GDP growth
* Economy on path of recovery after crisis
By Raushan Nurshayeva
ASTANA, April 26 (Reuters) - Kazakhstan’s economy may grow 7.0 percent this year as commodity markets boom, much faster than the original official forecast of 4-5 percent, Economy Minister Kairat Kelimbetov said on Tuesday.
Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest and most successful economy, is a major producer and exporter of oil and industrial metals. It is also the world’s largest uranium producer and a major exporter of wheat.
“Taking into account the favourable conditions on the world’s commodity markets and the economic results achieved in the first quarter, we believe that 7-percent economic growth is attainable this year,” Kelimbetov told a government meeting.
Citing preliminaty data, officials estimate that Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 6.5 percent in the first quarter of this year. Final official data show that industrial output grew 6.0 percent in January-March.
Kazakhstan’s GDP growth accelerated to 7.0 percent last year from 1.2 percent in 2009.
“We see reserves for growth in higher industrial output, including in the processing industry and the construction sector,” Kelimbetov said.
“According to our estimates, it is quite possible to achieve 5.3-percent growth in production of goods and 8.2-percent growth in services.”
Kazakhstan, a mainly Muslim country five times the size of France but populated by just 16.4 million people, was among the first and hardest hit by the global financial crisis.
Last year Kazakh banks completed debt restructuring, helping the rest of the economy set on the path to recovery. (Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Kim Coghill)