Global Business @ Meridian: Kazakhstan

Ambassador Kazykhanov, Amy Conroy, and Ambassador Stuart Holliday

Overview

Meridian held an installment of the Global Business@Meridian breakfast series on September 28th, 2017.  Hosted by Ms. Amy Conroy, International Government Affairs Manager for Chevron, the program featured Ambassador of Kazakhstan, Erzhan Kazykhanov and drew over 15 corporate leaders together to engage in an off-the-record dialogue on economic challenges and opportunities in Kazakhstan.

Sponsor

Chevron

In Attendance

Corporate Council Members:

Chevron
Beacon Global Strategies
First Data Corporation
Fluor
Visa

Embassy of Kazakhstan: Ambassador Erzhan Kazykhanov, Nurlan Gabdyzhamalov (First Secretary), Meruert Igbayeva (Second Secretary)

Guests: Atlantic Council, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck (LLP), Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The Cohen Group, Eni Petroleum Company, Eurasia Group, John Deere, Thomson Reuters, U.S.-Kazakhstan Business Association

Meridian International Center: Ambassador Stuart Holliday, Puru Trivedi, Lizzy Ramey

Featured Remarks:

  • Amy Conroy, Chevron
    Following around-the-table guest introductions facilitated by Ambassador Stuart Holliday, Ms. Conroy highlighted the longstanding relationship between Ambassador Kazykhanov and the United States, despite this newly appointed position. She introduced the Ambassador by remarking on his incredible career, mentioning specifically his background as an author, and invited him to open up the discussion with his own remarks.
  • Ambassador Kazykhanov, Embassy of Kazakhstan
    Following Ms. Conroy’s introduction, Ambassador Kazykhanov began by remarking on his role in the global security and nuclear non-proliferation discussion during the UNGA conference just the week before and noted that Kazakhstan is in a strategic and powerful position to be an ally to the U.S. on these issues. Kazakhstan currently has the largest economy in the region – doubling the size of the surrounding countries combined. Combined with the initiative to turn the Expo 2017 in Astana into a modern financial center for the country, the Ambassador focused on the multitude of opportunities for American companies to engage more directly with Kazakhstan and benefit greatly.

Key Discussion Highlights

  • Diversification: Oil and gas are still chief amongst Kazakhstan’s main exports and source of national GDP, but the current President has made it a priority to invest in initiatives and policies that wean the country off their dependence on natural resources. An example of this shift in economic policy is the transformation of the Science Expo into a global financial hub in the center of Astana which the government hopes will attract a higher rate for foreign direct investment. Additionally, as oil prices remain low, the Ambassador shared that the country is looking to privatize more goods and services and focus efforts on modernization and digitization. This includes incorporating an atmosphere of e-commerce into society which allows for more inclusion and transparency as well.
  • Regional and Global Security: The Ambassador reminded guests that Kazakhstan is located at a strategic point for relations with several countries that are important to the United States’ national security: Russia, China, Afghanistan, and Syria. He explained how the Chinese have provided Kazakhstan with several opportunities as they look to expand their reach globally and inherently must travel through Kazakhstan to do so. Additionally, Russia remains one of Kazakhstan’s most important economic partners, but as they diversify they hope that economies in other countries in the region begin to open up and adopt more free trade policies

Meridian looks forward to working with the Embassy of Kazakhstan on future initiatives in Washington.

For Council items, please contact Puru P. Trivedi, Director for Corporate Relations | 202-939-5524 | ptrivedi@meridian.org

Project summary

Global Business @ Meridian: Kazakhstan | September 2017
Number of Attendees: 15
Regions: South and Central Asia
Countries: Kazakhstan
Impact Areas: Business and Trade, Entrepreneurship
Program Areas: Convening
Partners: Diplomatic Corps, Private Sector