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Upcoming Event

Kazakhstan in a changing Eurasia

New York

Council on Foreign Relations
58 East 68th Street, 10065

*This event is by invitation only. Register with access code online or request an invitation at*

8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. | Registration and Networking Breakfast

8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. | Special Breakfast Session: Investment Opportunities in Kazakhstan | Sponsored by Kazakhinvest*

Conversation with Askar Uzakbaiuly Mamin, First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan

*Seating is Limited. Pre-Registration Required. 

Kazakhstan is making concerted effort to attract foreign direct investment. The country now ranks 36th out of 190 states in the World Bank “Doing Business” rankings and, alongside Russia, has the best indicators among post-Soviet states. Recently, President Nursultan Nazarbayev revealed a large-scale institutional reform program, which comprises reforms in public administration, the regulatory framework, and the management of state-owned enterprises. The package of economic reforms is aimed at developing non-primary industries of the economy, creating new industries with the use of digital technologies and enhancing Kazakhstan’s appeal as an investment destination.

Welcome Remarks by Zhenis Kassymbek, Minister for Investments and Development, Republic of Kazakhstan 


Askar Uzakbaiuly Mamin, First Deputy Prime Minister, Republic of Kazakhstan   


Thomas Firestone, Partner, Baker & McKenzie LLP

9:00 a.m. - 9:05 a.m. | Welcome Remarks by Foreign Affairs Editor

9:05 a.m. - 10:05 a.m. | Foreign Affairs Briefing

Foreign Affairs Briefings offer an informed and comprehensive overview of the key political dynamics and macroeconomic trends in the region. Creating economic growth, human capital, investment capital, affordable energy and modern infrastructure are proven sustainable growth drivers. What is the region doing to leverage these strategic advantages and what could help accelerate economic growth to assure its vitality in decades to come?


Susan M. Elliott, President & CEO, National Committee on American Foreign Policy

Todd Levy, President of Europe, Eurasia and Middle East Exploration and Production, Chevron

Askar Uzakbaiuly Mamin, First Deputy Prime Minister, Kazakhstan

Akhmetzhan Yessimov, Chairman of the Management Board, Samruk-Kazyna


Stuart Reid, Managing Editor, Foreign Affairs

10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. | Kazakhstan and the new Silk Road

The future of trade in Asia could rely greatly on what becomes of China’s expansive One Belt, One Road initiative, which calls for huge investment in and development of trade routes in the region. Located on the Eurasian continent, Kazakhstan is not only an important stronghold of the economic belt of the Silk Road, but also an important member of the Eurasian Economic Union. Kazakhstan’s future economic growth depends on the development of infrastructure and regional trade. The country aims to become the largest business and transit hub of the Central Asia region, a bridge between Europe and Asia. 


Kanat Alpsibaev, Chairman of the Board, JSC NC Kazakhstan Temir Zholy

Nargis Kassenova, Senior Fellow, Program on Central Asia, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University 

Roland Nash, Senior Partner, Verno Capital

Timur Suleimenov, Minister of National Economy, Republic of Kazakhstan


David A. Merkel, Managing Director, Summit International Advisors; Nonresident Senior Fellow, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | Simultaneous Breakout Sessions

Breakout 1: Innovation and Digital Transformation

The Digital Kazakhstan state program was approved in December 2017. It is an important plan that aims to improve the standard of living of every Kazakh citizen through the use of digital technologies. The plan is to implement the program within five years from 2018 until 2022 in five key areas: digitalization of the economy, transition to digital government, implementation of the Digital Silk Road, human capital development and creating an innovation ecosystem. Examples of successful ecosystems in Kazakhstan will be presented and we will take a closer look at how government bodies and private institutions play a key role in creating and nurturing talent and productivity, as well as looking at the role of investors in stimulating the economy.

*Speakers to be announced soon

Breakout 2: Kazakhstan’s Privatization’s Program: Tapping International Capital Markets

One of the main objectives of President Nazarbayev’s recent address to the nation, “New development opportunities under the Fourth industrial revolution,” is the acceleration of the implementation of the privatization plan. Kazakhstan’s $67 billion worth sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna has sold over 120 small and mid-sized firms and is preparing larger firms for sale under its privatization program.


K. Kudaibergen, CEO, Tauken Samruk JSC

Nurlan Rakhmetov, Managing Director, Samruk-Kazyna JSC

Umut Shayakhmetova, CEO, Halyk Bank

*Additional Speakers to be announced soon 

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. | Networking Lunch

1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. | Investor Roadshow

Kanat Alpysbaev, Chairman of the Board, JSC NC Kazakhstan Temir Zholy

He began his career in1994 in Teselinnaya Railway. Between 1999 and 2002 he served as a Deputy Head of Division, Head of Division, Head of Main Department of Finance and Accounting, State Undertaking Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, Director of Affiliated State Undertaking Lokomotiv. In 2002-2003 he worked as a Director for Finance and Management, Vice-President for Finance and Information Technologies of CJSC Air Astana. Between 2005 and 2005 Kanat Alpysbayev held the position of the Deputy Chairman of JSC Intranscom and from 2008 to 2016 served as a Vice-President of JSC NC Kazakhstan Temir Zholy. Since September 15, 2016 until present he is a Chairman of the Board of Joint-Stock National Company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy.

Susan M. Elliott, President & CEO, National Committee on American Foreign Policy

Ambassador (retired) Susan M. Elliott is President & CEO of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, a position she assumed in August 2018. Ambassador Elliott is an accomplished diplomat with an earned doctorate from Indiana University.  During her 27-year diplomatic career, Ambassador Elliott held a variety of leadership positions at the U.S. Department of State.

From 2015 to 2017, Ambassador Elliott served as the Civilian Deputy and Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commander of the United States European Command.  Ambassador Elliott was the U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan from 2012 to 2015.  Prior to her Ambassadorial appointment, she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

Ambassador Elliott served on the faculties of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia before joining the U.S. Department of State in March 1990.  During her Foreign Service career, Ambassador Elliott worked in a variety of overseas and Washington-based assignments.  Her previous overseas assignments include Minister Counselor for Political Affairs in Moscow, Russia; Principal Officer in Belfast, Northern Ireland; Deputy Economic Counselor and Visa Section Chief in Athens, Greece.  Other overseas assignments include Moscow, Russia and Lima, Peru.

Ambassador Elliott worked on the staff of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a Deputy Executive Secretary and Director of the Executive Secretariat Staff.  Earlier in her career she reported on conflicts in the countries of the former Soviet Union when she worked in the Office of the Coordinator for Regional Conflicts in the New Independent States.

Tom Firestone, Partner, Baker & McKenzie, LLP

Tom Firestone is a partner in the New York and Washington,. D.C. offices of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie.  His practice is focused on international white collar criminal defense, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, anti-money laundering, sanctions compliance and helping companies manage the risks of investing in emerging markets.  Prior to joining Baker & McKenzie, he spent 14 years with the U.S. Department of Justice, half as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York, where he specialized in investigating and prosecuting transnational organized crime and half as the Department of Justice Resident Legal Advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.  He is fluent in Russian and has published widely in both English and Russian on topics relating to organized crime, criminal justice and anti-corruption in the former Soviet Bloc.  He also serves as Chairman of the U.S.-Kyrgyzstan Business Council and is a member of the Board of the America Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Tajikistan Business Council.  He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and also received an M.A. in international relations from U.C. Berkeley.

Nargis Kassenova, Senior Fellow, Program on Central Asia, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University

Nargis Kassenova is Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations and Regional Studies of KIMEP University based in Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Director of the KIMEP China and Central Asia Studies Center (CCASC). This academic year she is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard University Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Her areas of research include Central Asian politics and security, Eurasian geopolitics, and Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. She holds a PhD in International Cooperation Studies from Nagoya University, Japan. 

Kanat Kudaibergen, Acting Chairman of the Board, JSC NMC Tau-Ken Samruk

Education: Kazakh State National University named after Al-Farabi, Jurisprudence; Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation, Master's degree in Public and Municipal Governance; Geneva Business School, MBA.


2001 – 2004: Senior Prosecutor’s Assistant, Semirechenskaya transport prosecutor's office

2004 – 2006: Deputy Director - Head of the Contract and Legal Division of the Legal Department, Kazakhtelecom JSC

2006 – 2007: Head of the Administrative Support Division of the Administrative and Financial Department, Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Regulation of Activities of the ARFC

2007 – 2010: Leading Specialist of the Legal Department in Trade and Transport Company LLP, JSC NAC Kazatomprom

2010 – 2011: Chief Manager - Head of the Legal Department

2011 – 2012: Deputy Supply General Director

2012 – 2014: First Deputy General Director

2014 – 2015: Chief Executive Officer – General Director

2015 – 2016: First Deputy General Director

2016 – 2018: General Director of Karatau LLP, JSC NAC Kazatomprom

Since 2018: Managing Director of the “Uranium Mining” Division of JSC NAC Kazatomprom

Since 04.2018: Acting Chief Executive Officer of JSC NMC Tau-Ken Samruk

Todd Levy, President of Europe, Eurasia and Middle East Exploration and Production, Chevron

Jeffrey T. (Todd) Levy assumed the role of president, Chevron Europe, Eurasia and Middle East Exploration and Production in January 2014. Based in London, he is responsible for the oversight of Chevron’s upstream interests in the region.

Levy’s previous assignment was as vice president upstream from 2010 to 2013.

Prior to that assignment, Levy served as general director of the Tengizchevroil Kazakhstani joint venture from 2006 to 2010. Other management positions included general manager operations, Gulf of Mexico Business Unit and general manager of the Eurasia Business Unit in Kazakhstan.

In 1982, Levy began his career as a chemical engineer in the Gulf of Mexico Business Unit in Louisiana. Since joining Chevron, he has served in positions of increasing responsibility in management, engineering, projects, operations and commercial in Kazakhstan, Angola, Australia and the United States.

Levy received the Chevron Chairman's Award for leading the corporation's operational excellence program development. Levy was honored with the Dostyk Order, which is awarded by the president of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Levy was born in Oklahoma in 1959. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Louisiana State University in 1982.

Kassymbek Zhenis Mahmudovich, Minister of Investments and Development, Republic of Kazakhstan

Graduated from Kazakh State Architecture & Construction Academy (Almaty) with qualification Architect-Designer and L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University (Astana) with qualification Economist-Manager. Candidate of Economic Sciences.

In different periods, Zhenis Kassymbek worked as Head of Railway Transport & Ports Division in Agency for Regulation of Natural Monopolies & Competition Protection, Head of Tariff Policy Division in Coordination & Tariff Policy Department, Director of Water-Borne Transport Department in Ministry of Transport and Communications, Director of Aktau International Sea Port RSE.

From 2005: Vice Minister of Transport and Communications, Republic of Kazakhstan.

From 2009: Executive Secretary of Ministry of Transport and Communications, Republic of Kazakhstan.

From March 2014: Minister of Transport and Communications, Republic of Kazakhstan.

Since August 2014, he has been working as First Vice Minister of Investments and Development, Republic of Kazakhstan.

From June 2016: Minister of Investments and development, Republic of Kazakhstan.


Askar Uzakbaiuly Mamin, First Deputy Prime Minister, Kazakhstan

Askar Uzakbaiuly Mamin was born in 1965. He graduated from the Tselinograd Civil Engineering Institute, Russian Academy of Economics named after G. Plekhanov with civil engineer, economist specialties. He began his career as an installer at "Tselintyazhstroy" corporation. From 1996 to 2008, he served as the First Deputy mayor of Astana, Vice-Minister of Transport and Communications, First Vice-Minister of Industry and Trade, Minister of Transport and Communications of Kazakhstan, mayor of Astana city. From April 17, 2008 he was elected a member of the Board of Directors of "National Company "Kazakhstan Temir Zholy" JSC. He was decorated with the medal "Eren enbegi ushin" (For Distingueshed Labor), 1998; the Order "Qurmet" (Honor), 2006; the Order of "Barys" of the 2nd degree, 2011; the Order of the Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow 3rd degree, 2010; Order of the Legion of Honor of the French Republic, 2013; Order of the "Cross of Recognition" of the 2nd degree of the Republic of Latvia, 2013; Order "For civil Merit" of the 1 st degree of the Kingdom of Spain, 2014; Honorary citizen of Astana city, 2011; Honorary Railwayman, 2012; Honorary Builder of Kazakhstan, 2013.

David A. Merkel, Managing Director, Summit International Advisors, LLC

David A. Merkel is Managing Director of Summit International Advisors, LLC and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.  His expertise includes US foreign policy, the geopolitics of energy, the Belt Road Initiative, Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia. He is based in Washington, DC.

Mr. Merkel has served as deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs; director for South and Central Asian affairs at the National Security Council; director for European and Eurasian affairs at the National Security Council in the White House and deputy assistant secretary for International Affairs at the US Treasury Department. He also served as international counselor to the Chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); and senior professional staff on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan and the Josef Korbel School of International Studies Social Science Foundation at the University of Denver as well as a visiting faculty member in the geopolitics of energy at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy.

He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), and the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.
Mr. Merkel has been an international election observer and worked on democracy programs for the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Roland Nash, Senior Partner and Chief Investment Strategist, Verno Capital 

Roland Nash joined Verno Capital in January 2011 as Senior Partner and Chief Investment Strategist and has 20 years of experience in the Russian and FSU markets. Prior to this Roland was Co-Head of Renaissance Capital’s Equity Product Group, responsible for managing a 200-strong sales, trading, and research team in New York, London, and across Africa and Russia/FSU.  From 2003 until 2010, he was Head of Research at Renaissance Capital, managing a team of 85 research analysts across Russia, the FSU, and Africa. At the same time, Roland was also Chief Equity Strategist, advising Renaissance Capital’s client base on investment opportunities across Russia/FSU and between 2006 and 2010, Roland sat on the Executive Committee of Renaissance Capital, developing business strategy for the bank. In every year during his time at Renaissance Capital, the team was voted the best research house in Russia in the annual All-Europe Institutional Investor survey and between 2004 and 2009 Roland was voted the number one strategist for Russia in every All-Russia Institutional Investor survey.

Nurlan Rakhmetov, Managing Director for Transformation, Privatization and Restructuring, Samruk-Kazyna JSC

Education: Moscow State University named after M.V. Lomonosov, Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences; IE Business School, Madrid, Global Executive MBA.


1990 – 1991: Junior Researcher of the Institute of Mathematics and Mechanics, Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR

1991 – 1996: Senior Lecturer, Department of Mathematical Analysis of the Almaty State University named after Abai1991 – 1996: Senior Lecturer, Department of Mathematical Analysis of the Almaty State University named after Abai

1996 – 1998: Economist, Head of Planning and Finance Department, Financial Director of «BUTYA”

1998: Deputy CEO of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy RSE

1998 – 2001: Director of the Analysis and Forecasting Department of the Ministry of State Revenue of the Republic of Kazakhstan

2001 – 2002: Vice-Minister of the Ministry of State Revenue of the Republic of Kazakhstan

2002 – 2003: Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan

2003 – 2004: Deputy CEO of KazTransGas JSC and Intergas Central Asia JSC

2004 – 2006: Managing Director for Economics and Finance of JSC NC KazMunayGas

2006 – 2008: Chairman of the Tax Committee of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan

2008 – 2011: Managing Director of Samruk-Kazyna JSC 

2011 – 2014: Managing Director – Member of the Management Board of Samruk-Kazyna JSC

2014 – 2016: Financial Director – Member of the Management Board of Samruk-Kazyna JSC

2016 – 2018: Managing Director for RK Government Relations

Since 2018: Managing Director for Transformation, Privatization, and Restructuring

Umut Shayakhmetova, Chairperson of the Management Board, Halyk Bank

Umut Shayakhmetova is a Head-Businesswomen Council at National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan, a Member-International Council at UnionPay International Corp. Ltd. and a Chairman-Management Board & Director at Halyk Savings Bank of Kazakhstan JSC. She is on the Board of Directors at Halyk Savings Bank of Kazakhstan JSC, Al Farabi Kazakh National University and Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Physics & Mathematics. Ms. Shayakhmetova was previously employed as a Vice Chairman-Management Board by ABN Amro Bank Kazakhstan, a Chairman-Management Board by ABN AMRO Asset Management Kazakhstan, and a Deputy Chairman-Management Board by ABN Amro Bank Kazakhstan. She received her undergraduate degree from Peoples' Friendship University of Russia and an MBA from Rutgers State University of New Jersey.

Timur Muratovich Suleimenov, Minister of National Economy, Republic of Kazakhstan


In 2000 he graduated from Pavlodar state university named after S.Toraigyrov as per “economy and management in the social sphere and branches” specialty.

In 2002 he graduated from Maryland University (USA), MBA, “finance and marketing” specialty

In 2006 he graduated from Pavlodar state university named after S.Toraigyrov, as per “legal sciences” specialty.

Professional career:

From 1999 to 2000 – economic manager, family outpatient clinic # 3, Pavlodar city

From 2002 to 2006 – senior consultant, auditor company “Ernst and Young”, Almaty city

From 2006 to 2009 – director of Tax registration and tax planning department, “KazMunaiGas” Oil exploration and production” JSC, Astana city

From 2009 to 2010 – Vice minister of economy and budget planning of RK, Astana city

From 2010 to 2012 – vice minister of economic development and trade of RK, Astana city

From 2012 to 2016 – member of the Board (Minister) on economy and financial policy, Eurasian economic commission, Moscow city (Russian Federation)

From December 2016 till present time – Minister of National economy of RK, Astana city


He was awarded with “Eren enbegi uzhin” medal, “For contribution into creation of Eurasian economic union of 1st stage”, with letter of merit of the Minister of economy and budget planning of RK for contribution into economic development of RK, with letter of merit of Chairman of the Committee of Customs Union for contrition into setting up Customs Union, with the letter of merit of President of “KazMunaiGas” JSC for contribution into development of the oil and gas industry of RK.


Saparbek Tuyakbayev, Chairman of the Board, Kazakh Invest

Saparbek Tuyakbaev was born in 1979 in the South-Kazakhstan region. In 2001, he graduated from the Middle East Technical University (Turkey), in 2004 — the University of Toronto (Canada). He began his career in 2005. In 2005-2009 he held various positions in the Agency for Civil Service Affairs, the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Russia, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Presidential Administration.

In 2012-2017 he worked as a deputy governor of the South-Kazakhstan region, supervised the issues of investment, industry and entrepreneurship. From October 2016 to the present, he held the post of Chairman of the Investment Committee of the Ministry of Investments and Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Akhmetzhan Yessimov, Chairman of the Management Board, Samruk-Kazyna

Akhmetzhan Yessimov was born on December 15, 1950 in Almaty region. In 1974 he graduated from the Kazakh Agricultural Institute with major in Mechanization of Agricultural Production Processes. In 1991 graduated from socio-political faculty of the Russian Academy of Social Sciences with major in Theory of Sociopolitical Relations. He received PhD in Economics in 1999.In 1990 he was the First Deputy Chairman of Gosagroprom of the Kazakh SSR, and in 1991 he was the First Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food of Kazakh SSR. From 1991 to 1992 he was Chairman of Almaty Oblast Congress of People’s Deputies and from 1992 to 1994 he was Head of Alma-Ata regional administration. From 1994 to 1996, he served as Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan and from 1996-1998 he was State Secretary of the Republic of Kazakhstan, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan - Chairman of the State Committee on Investments, and Head of Administration of President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. From 1998 – 2001 he was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Benelux countries (The Kingdom of Belgium, The Kingdom of the Netherlands and The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg). He also headed the Representative Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the EU and the NATO. From 2001-2006 he was Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan. From January 2006 through April 2008 he was the Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan. From April 2008 through August 2015 he was Mayor of Almaty and Chairman of Almaty affiliate of Nur Otan Party. From August 2015 through December 2017 he was Chairman of the Management Board of  NC Astana EXPO. Since December 2017, he has served as Chairman of the Management Board of Samruk-Kazyna JSC. Mr Yessimov has been awarded Kazakhstan Labor Hero, Badge of Honor, Friendship Order, Otan Order, and Parasat Order.








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