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Past Event

Kazakhstan Business Forum

Council on Foreign Relations

58 East 68th Street (at Park Avenue)
New York, NY 10065

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Photos from the event can be found here.

Video of the event can be found here.

12:00pm | Check-in & Networking Luncheon

12:30pm  | Panel Discussion and Q&A

Presiding: Stephen SestanovichSenior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Zubaid Ahmad, Vice Chairman, Institutional Clients Group, Citigroup
Donald M. Itzkoff, Executive Counsel, Government Affairs & Policy, GE Transportation
Andrey Kurilin, CEO, JSC Citibank Kazakhstan
Yerlan Sagadiyev, Deputy Minister of Investment and Development, Republic of Kazakhstan

Due to its rich natural resources, Kazakhstan has one of the world's fastest growing economies and attracts the most foreign direct investment of any Central Asian nation. A significant regional player, Kazakhstan participates in a wide range of international initiatives and is a member country of all major international institutions. In 2010, Kazakhstan assumed chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), an important milestone. It is also on an active accession path to the World Trade Organization (WTO). At the regional level, Kazakhstan has entered into a customs union with Russia and Belarus, resulting in the creation of a common economic space and the deepening of regional economic integration.

Kazakhstan's most recent economic strategy was outlined in December 2012 in the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy, which considers long-term sources of growth, new markets, fostering a favorable investment climate, and developing effective public-private partnerships. This panel discussion will analyze how the nation can deepen reforms, address challenges and obstacles to doing business, and continue its growth trajectory in the face of global economic uncertainty.

• Creating a high growth model for Kazakhstan 
• Eurasian Economic Union: implications and opportunities for U.S. investors
• The new geopolitics of energy: Kazakhstan's role as a strategic energy bridge between East and West
• How to reassure investors on various tax, regulatory, and legal frameworks?
• Privatization process and opportunities for foreign investors

2:00pm | Networking Coffee & One-on-One Sessions



Zubaid Ahmad is Vice Chairman of Citi’s Institutional Clients Group and member of the Senior Strategic Advisory Group. Mr. Ahmad heads the firm’s global practice with Sovereign Wealth Funds and also serves as a senior coverage banker to a broad group of public sector and corporate clients. During his career of over 25 years, Mr. Ahmad has completed a large number of transactions for both developed and emerging market clients, spanning mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, debt and equity capital raisings, privatizations, and project financings. Mr. Ahmad received his BSBA from Georgetown University and his MBA from the Harvard Business School. He has served on the boards of a number of private and public companies.


Donald M. Itzkoff has been Executive Counsel for Government Affairs and Policy, North America, for GE Transportation since October 2010. Based in Washington D.C., Mr. Itzkoff is a nationally recognized rail policy expert with 25 years of experience in transportation and technology issues. He previously was Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation from 1994-1999. From 1991-1994, Mr. Itzkoff served as a staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, where he was Senior Counsel to what is now the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security. He previously served as partner in the Washington D.C. office of the law firm Nossaman LLP, practicing in infrastructure and public policy. He has represented public and private sector clients on transportation policy, funding and regulatory matters including: the California High-Speed Rail (HSR) Authority, state departments of transportation and other public agencies, a Class I freight railroad and commuter rail authorities, transportation consulting and engineering firms, technology suppliers, and associations and coalitions, including the American Public Transportation Association, the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership (OneRail), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the former HSR Association. Complementing his background in surface transportation, Mr. Itzkoff has experience with intermodal and maritime matters. He also has advised on energy and environmental regulatory and legislative issues. He received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and his A.B. magna cum laude from Brown University.


Andrey Kurilin is Chief Executive Officer of Citi Kazakhstan. From 2012 to 2013, he was Chief Operating Officer of Citi Russia; from 2009 to 2012 he was Head of Risk at Citi Russia-Ukraine-Kazakhstan; from 2006 to 2008, Mr. Kurilin was Expert, In-house M&A at Citi New York; from 2003 to 2006, he was Banking Head of Citi Kazakhstan; and from 1996 to 2006, he was part of the banking group at Citi Russia. Citi has been in Kazakhstan since 1994 and is the largest Western investor in the country's financial industry. Mr. Kurilin is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kazakhstan and a representative of the AmCham at the Investment Climate Improvement Council chaired by the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan. He is a graduate of the Moscow Institute of International Relations at the Foreign Ministry of Russia.

sagadiyevYerlan Sagadiyev is deputy minister of investment and development for the Republic of Kazakhstan. He earned a Master in Science from the University of Minnesota in 1993 and a bachelor's degree from the Kazakh State University named after Al-Farabi. Minister Sagadiyev started his career in 1990 working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1992 he was assistant for agricultural analysis at the World Bank, responsible for Eastern Europe and CIS countries. From 1993 to 1994, he worked for Developed Technologies Recourse in Minneapolis. From 1995 to 2004, Minister Sagadiyev worked for FoodMaster company as General Director, and then as Chairman of the Board. From 2003 to 2009, he was Chairman of the Board of New Technologies of Kazakhstan JSC, President of the University of International Business in Almaty, and Independent Director of Investment Fund JSC. From 2009 to 2012, he was Chairman of the Board of Frontier Mining (London) and President of the International University of Informational Technology. From 2012 to 2013, he was Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Since February 2014, he has been Vice Minister of Industry and New Technologies.

sestaStephen Sestanovich is the George F. Kennan senior fellow for Russian and Eurasian studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis professor of international diplomacy at Columbia University. From 1997 to 2001, he served as U.S. ambassador-at-large for the former Soviet Union. He has also served as vice president for Russian and Eurasian affairs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, director of Soviet and East European studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and senior director for policy development at the National Security Council. In his recent book, Maximalist: America in the World From Truman to Obama, Ambassador Sestanovich puts the history of U.S. foreign policy in a new light. When the United States has succeeded in the world, he argues, it has done so not by staying the course but by having to change it—usually amid deep controversy and uncertainty. He is also coauthor or editor of several volumes on international affairs and has contributed articles to the National Interest, Foreign Affairs, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, American Interest, New Republic, Politico Magazine, and other publications. Ambassador Sestanovich received his BA from Cornell University and his PhD from Harvard University. 





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