Italian Business in Central Asia
In and Around the Energy Sector
While distant and little-known to the Italian public, Central Asia plays an important role for Italy. Kazakhstan is an important supplier of oil to Italy and Italy is the principal customer for Kazakhstani oil. This article concentrates on Italy-Kazakhstan relations because they represent the lion’s share of Italy-Central Asia relations, while also providing a rationale to explain the diverging pathways that allowed Kazakhstan to interact more proficiently with foreign companies, rather than its close neighbours. By focusing on the energy sector, this article also highlights how trans-national companies (TNCs), such as Italy’s Eni, transfer practices from their global experience in oil and gas to their destination countries in Central Asia. In particular, this article analyses the cost-cutting practices of outsourcing services and outstaffing workforce, for which Italian companies and joint ventures have become instrumental.