American Chamber of Commerce in Kazakhstan

Corporate Social Responsibility (Almaty)

Chair:   Meiramkul KhodjashovaArea CSR & Communications Manager, BAT CCA

 

The Almaty CSR Working Group seeks to engage policymakers and businesses on how to best mobilize social capital in Kazakhstan. A guiding principle of its work is improving CSR practice in Kazakhstan and promoting best practices in socially responsible giving.


Meetings feature presenters from a variety of companies and NGOs, providing members with the opportunity to discuss CSR successes and challenges in Kazakhstan, and to identify ways of improving the environment for CSR.


Furthermore, the Group has carried out a number of projects. In the past, the group established the CSR Journalism Project, funded by the British Embassy, Exxon Mobil, USAID, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.  The project sought to improve the quality of CSR-related news coverage by training journalists in reporting CSR issues.  A journalistic competition was held each year with award-winners sent abroad for further training.  Another project, implemented by the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia,  was development of a CSR website (www.csrkz.org) to promote corporate social responsibility and sustainable business in Kazakhstan. 


More recently the Group has developed a paper recycling and charitable giving project with Kazakhstan Kagazy, and carries out an annual Earth Day Cleanup in Almaty.

 

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Corporate Social Responsibility (Atyrau)

Chair:               Chanel Jolly, Tengizchevroil

Deputy Chair:  Gulnara Aitzhanova, Community Relations Adviser, Tengizchevroil

 

AmCham launched its Atyrau Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Working Group in May 2010, with the intention of raising awareness of CSR issues and initiatives in the Atyrau business community.  


The group studies the practice of CSR in the Atyrau region, with its heavy concentration of oil and gas companies and industry service companies  in order to identify common themes, lessons learned, overlapping spheres of activity, etc. By sharing information and collaborating on projects, the group aims to increase the impact that their CSR programs have on the local community. In the future the group would like to involve the NGO community more actively in meetings, both to help develop this sphere, and to familiarize companies with their work, creating a stronger network of potential partners in the Atyrau region. 


The Working Group is attended by members primarily from the energy sector and encompasses both large companies with sophisticated CSR programs and smaller businesses looking to further develop their own activities. A number of these companies are considered to be among the major players in CSR in Kazakhstan. 

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Foreign Investment (Almaty)

Chair:               Aibat Akhmetalimov, Managing Director, Philip Morris Kazakhstan

 

As the first AmCham Working Group created when the Chamber was founded, the Almaty Foreign Investment Working Group is the prototype Group for all the Working Groups that have been created at AmCham over the last decade.  The Group's  mission is to represent and support the interests of the foreign business community in Kazakhstan. Specifically, the group seeks to identify common problems encountered by foreign companies and investors and to proactively work with relevant government agencies and institutions in Kazakhstan to address those issues. 


As a general rule, the Working Group seeks to stay abreast of key legislative changes and developments and to assess their impact on the foreign business community.  In the past, the Working Group has focused its attention on intellectual property rights, tender preferences for local firms, corruption issues, regional trade issues, and local content. Currently the group is addressing the problematic regulatory environment, particularly the process of introducing regulations, consulting with businesses, and assessing the impact of the regulations, with the intention of developing recommendations for the Government of Kazakhstan. 

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Foreign Investment (Astana)

Chair:      Robert Bosworth, Central Asia Regional Manager, Booz Allen Hamilton

 

The Astana Foreign Investment Working Group was launched in September 2011 with the mission of representing and supporting the interests of the foreign business community in Kazakhstan. As with the Almaty Foreign Investment Working Group, the Astana group seeks to identify and address problems encountered by foreign investors and collaborate with relevant government agencies to improve the investment climate in Kazakhstan. 


The group serves as a forum for members to share information, raise concerns, and learn about the latest legislative developments, and is attended by members of the business and diplomatic community. Past presenters have included representatives of the US and Canadian Embassies, Samryk-Kazyna, the Foreign Investors’ Council, law firms and large companies. Areas of focus are determined in large part by members and have included:


Legal and regulatory reform

Local content requirements

Labor legislation

Brand protection and intellectual property rights

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Human Resources (Almaty)

Chair:  Dmitriy Nadirov, CEO, PPF Insurance

 

The mission of the Almaty Human Resources Working Group is to encourage the development of Labor and Human Resources best practices for companies in Kazakhstan, an area still undergoing professional development. The focus is a wide range of HR specialties including training and development, recruitment, talent management, compensation and benefits, performance management, HR information systems, international mobility (including work permits/visas), employee relations, labor code compliance, work force planning, HR administration, and HR professional development.


In recent months, the group has examined themes such as changes in labor legislation, KPIs, talent management, and grading systems. Traditionally one of AmCham’s strongest and most active working groups, the group continues to focus on strengthening HR professionalism in Kazakhstan. Members engaged or interested in Human Resources are encouraged to attend the monthly Working Group.

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Human Resources (Atyrau)

Chair:     Derek Toffer, Director of Business Development, FLUOR

 

The Atyrau Human Resources Working Group meets quarterly to educate members on developments in the field of HR, especially those pertaining to the oil and gas industry. 


The group met for the first time in May 2010 with the goal of better understanding common HR policies, legislation, and workforce management. Since then, the changing face of labor legislation has become a key topic in the Working Group, with a particular focus on local content and visa and work permit issues. The group, formed of both HR professionals and others in management with an interest in HR, has also focused on:


Employee compensation & fringe benefits

Kazakhstan labor code

HR management in Atyrau-based companies

Sustaining high-performing employees

Recruitment

Training & Education Programs


The group is an excellent platform for knowledge sharing, providing a community for HR professionals to address common challenges and to learn from other companies’ successes. 

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Human Resources (Aktau)

Chair:      Zhenis Utegenov, General Director, ArcelorMittal Tubular

 

The Aktau HR Working Group is one of AmCham’s newer groups, engaging members in Aktau in the process of developing Human Resources best practices. The focus is a wide range of HR specialties including training and development, recruitment, talent management, compensation and benefits, performance management, HR information systems, international mobility (including work permits/visas), employee relations, labor code compliance, work force planning, HR administration, and HR professional development.

 

Recently, the group has examined themes such as work permits and changing labor legislation, as well as recruitment. The group has also hosted representatives of the Labor Department and the Migration Police, who have answered members’ questions directly. The group plans to continue to invite members of the local authorities to attend, to promote transparency in the application of labor legislation, and to provide a forum for knowledge sharing. The group meets quarterly and welcomes new members.

 

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Technology and Innovation (Almaty)

Chair:      Graham Settle, Polygon International

 

The Almaty Technology and Innovation Working Group was re-launched in November 2012 with the goal of developing the ICT industry to the next level and encouraging innovation across all industry sectors. 


As the rapidly growing industry continues to play a key role in driving economic growth, the group seeks to promote the development and improvement of Kazakhstan’s information technology infrastructure by facilitating interaction of both market players and their customers, sharing information, coordinating activities, conducting research, and collaborating on joint projects. 


The group includes member companies specializing in areas ranging from education and healthcare to IT and telecommunications. Additional functions of the group include:


Promoting ICT best practices through information sharing

Assisting in the development of member companies new to Kazakhstan’s ICT market

Discussing and formulating common positions on policy and regulation

Acting as a forum to discuss and review ICT developments in industry and government


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Tax (Almaty)

Chair:      Tomas Balco, Associate Professor, KIMEP

Deputy:   Vera Kapatsina, Tax Director, Angels Nika Advisory

                Bakhytzhan Kadyrov, Senior Associate, Morgan Lewis 

 

With the Kazakhstan Tax Code frequently undergoing important changes, the Almaty Tax Working Group aims to be at the forefront of these and other important issues regarding taxation. The group meets on a monthly basis to discuss legislative amendments and issues of practice and application of tax legislation. Topics over the past year have included royalties, transfer pricing, capital gains tax, tax treaties and double taxation, and VAT.  


In the past year the group has worked on recommendations regarding the payment of royalties in Kazakhstan, and the process of submitting certificates of tax residency. The group will continue to develop recommendations for presentation to the Government of Kazakhstan, addressing specific areas of taxation that affect members across various industries. Furthermore, the group is seeking to procure representation at a higher level in order to contribute to the development of tax legislation. 

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Tax (Astana)

Chair:                  Tomas Balco, Associate Professor, KIMEP   

Deputy Chair:     Madina Andreyeva, Consultant, Booz Allen Hamilton

 

The Astana Tax Working Group meets quarterly to discuss recent updates to legislative amendments and applications to tax legislation. The group, which was launched at the 2009 Astana Oil & Gas Exhibition, provides an opportunity for tax specialists to discuss a variety of topics, which have included treatment of losses, taxation of fixed assets, exemptions from VAT, and changes in subsurface-user taxation and international taxation provisions.


The members in the Astana Tax Working Group come from both corporate and diplomatic backgrounds. The group’s proximity to government agencies and committees engaged in tax policy is a particular asset of this Working Group. In the past year, the Group developed and submitted recommendations to the Government regarding VAT refunds for subsurface users. 


Recent topics at meetings have included VAT Exemptions under the USA-Kazakhstan CTR Agreement, tax stability of PSAs, customs duty, and changes to the Tax Code. The Group will continue to develop recommendations which address tax concerns shared by members across multiple industries.


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Tax (Aktau)

Chair:               Tomas Balco, Associate Professor, KIMEP

Deputy Chair:  Aziz Kurbaniyazov, Tax Manager, Ersai

 

The Aktau Tax Working Group is the newest of AmCham’s Tax groups. It meets quarterly to discuss recent updates to legislative amendments and applications to tax legislation. In the past year, topics covered have included transfer pricing, permanent establishments, and proposed and actual changes to the Tax Code. 

 

The members in the Aktau Tax Working Group are predominantly tax specialists from large companies, particularly in the oil and gas industry. The Working Group provides the opportunity for members to stay abreast of changes to the Tax Code and to discuss specialist topics of concern to member companies. The group also participates in policy advocacy by aiding the other Tax Working Groups in drafting tax recommendations for the Government of Kazakhstan. 

 

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Tax (Atyrau)

Chair:               Tomas Balco, Associate Professor, KIMEP

Deputy Chair:  Sholpan Assangaliyeva, Senior Manager, Tax Department, KPMG

 

As in Almaty, Astana, and Aktau, the Atyrau Tax Working Group aims to be at the forefront of major developments and other central issues regarding taxation. The group intends to serve as a forum for companies in this region to share knowledge and discuss tax related issues, particularly those that are unique to the oil and gas industry. Discussions have centered on complex international taxation issues, some of which also require interpretation, guidance, or amendments to tax legislation. The group also has the opportunity to take a role in policy advocacy by aiding the other tax working groups in drafting tax recommendations for the Government of Kazakhstan.


Most members of this group currently represent companies active in subsoil operations. The Atyrau Working Group is continually growing and expects to expand through participation from other Atyrau-based companies. Going forward, the group seeks interaction and active contributions from members in order to generate dynamic discussion on complex tax issues.


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Trade & Customs (Almaty)

Chair:     David Westerling, Deputy Director, Economic Development Office, USAID

 

The Almaty Trade & Customs Working Group will re-launch in Autumn 2013 to provide members with the opportunity to discuss major trade barriers and customs regulatory issues while working to promote greater cooperation with the Kazakhstan customs administration. The Customs Union between Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus continues to shape the nature of trade in the region; the group will continue to discuss and analyze its impact. The group’s other focus areas will include trade facilitation, e-customs, customs valuation, WTO ascension, and local content development. 


The group aims to improve Kazakhstan’s competitiveness by addressing issues that inhibit the flow of goods and services across borders. At the behest of members, it also could develop and submit recommendations to the Government of Kazakhstan to address concerns of members across a variety of industries. 


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Trade & Customs (Atyrau)

Chair:      TBC

 

The Atyrau Trade and Customs Working Group was formed in order to better engage AmCham members in Atyrau, with a focus on the oil and gas industry. Given the reach and variability of the Customs Union, the new Working Group will serve as a forum to educate members and discuss changing legislation and regulations. 


The group will collaborate with the Almaty Trade and Customs Working Group on overlapping issues and advocate on behalf of AmCham members to relevant agencies within the Government of Kazakhstan. Other topics of consideration will include local content regulation and creating business linkages between companies in the United States and small and medium-sized enterprises in Kazakhstan.

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