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PM Bakhtadze talks about the economic partnership at the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Conference

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Friday, June 14
During the 3rd Annual US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Conference hosted by US Peace Institute in Washington DC Prime Minister of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze said that the US “has stood with Georgia” since the country’s independence.

“The US–Georgia Strategic Partnership is today at an all-time high level. The partnership has broadened and deepened both geopolitically and economically,” stated Bakhtadze.

PM expressed his commitment to strengthening and deepening the US-Georgia strategic and military partnership by expanding economic ties between the two nations.

“My message is clear: Georgia is open for business, and we welcome our American friends to seize the opportunities that abound in Georgia and our region. We want more investments, more trade, and more of the US in Georgia”, Bakhtadze addressed the audience.

He thanked the White House and Congress for recognizing Georgia’s “more immediate security needs by providing more security cooperation to safeguard our peace and stability”. PM Bakhtadze also welcomed the US “strong support” for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“In the past year, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation continued to expand its investments in Georgia, including for financing critical infrastructure and associated infrastructure on the coast of the Black Sea,” PM Bakhtadze said.

He added that these projects promise to transform Georgia into a regional, economic and transport hub offering the shortest route between Europe and Asia for high-value cargoes, connecting markets of several billion consumers while opening landlocked nations of at least 120 million more.

The head of the government talked about Georgia’s leading positions in various directions, as well as the possibilities offered by the country to investors. He also thanked the United States Private Foreign Investment Corporation (OPIC) for expanding capital investments.

“Today Georgia is on the third place with the small number of tax rates, on the 7th place in economic liberties, and 8th place in terms of ease of burden of state regulation. As you know, we are in 6th place according to the simplicity of doing business. Georgia has been established as a free market economy in terms of democratic governance and the rule of law.”

PM stated that Georgia seeks to be a full participant and member of the global market; country’s strategy becomes a regional hub for international business, logistics, tourism, education, and innovations.

Bakhtadze emphasized that Georgia is committed to an expansive economic vision based on a 3 part strategy, saying: “We will leverage our geography, natural advantages and stewardship to sustain economic growth averaging 5 percent, which is two times higher than in our neighborhood. We seek to be not just a regional hub, but a crossroad linking Asia and Europe. We will strive to become the gold standard in ease of doing business and legal transparency. Investment flows to an opportunity where the barriers are lowest. Our successful assault on corruption is also well-known.”

Relevantly, on June 13, the National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat) has published the information regarding external merchandise trade in Georgia in January-May 2019. According to Geostat foreign trade turnover in Georgia (without undeclared trade) amounted to 4 959.0 million US dollars, which is 1.0 percent higher than the previous year.

In the reporting period, the value of Georgian exports increased by 14.2% to $1.46 billion, while the value of imports decreased by 3.6% to $3.49 billion for 2018, said Geostat.

Exports amounted to 466.8 million US dollars (14.2 percent more) and imports 3 492.3 million USD (3.6 percent less).

The negative trade balance was $ 2. 02 billion in January-May, 2019, and 40.8 percent of the foreign trade turnover.