Bakhtadze Promotes Georgian Economy at World Affairs Council in Seattle

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze is currently on an official visit to the United States of America. From June 4-June 15, Bakhtadze is meeting with representatives of major businesses in San Francisco, California, Seattle, Washington, and Dallas, Texas to promote Georgia as a business and investment location. He will also meet with high level government officials in Washington, DC. Bakhtadze will speak to the attendees of the 3rd Annual US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Conference, hosted by the US Institute of Peace on June 12.

The World Affairs Council of Seattle, which aims to advance global understanding and engagement in the region, hosted ‘A Conversation with Mamuka Bakhatadze, Prime Minister of Georgia’ on June 7. At that event, Bakhtadze addressed US-Georgia bilateral relations and deepening their strategic partnership, as well as Georgia’s position as “a stable democratic stronghold in its region.” He also spoke with attendees about Georgia’s work promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development and helped frame the process of advancing America’s commercial interests in Eurasia and beyond.

Bakhtadze opened his speech saying, “Our strategy is to make Georgia a regional hub for tourism, international business, logistics, education, and innovations.”

He explained Georgia's steps and achievements toward democratic institutions and development, 28 years after independence from the Soviet Union, and less than two weeks after Georgia’s Independence Day celebration on May 26. Bakhtadze emphasized reforms of the justice system, which have “made Georgia one of the easiest places to do business, to invest in our country, our people, and our infrastructure. Step by step, we are becoming an economic hub for the region.” He also mentioned the country’s NATO-EU integration process: “We are forging trade agreements with France and allies like the US. The World Bank Group ranks us as 6th in terms of doing business in the world. The Fraser Institute ranks us 7th, right after the US, in economic freedom. As a reflection of our commitment to open governance, the Open Budget Index ranks us 5th in access to government information. We have all important indicators moving in the right direction, from free press to economic growth.” He also noted that the IMF’s latest projections for Georgia’s economic growth position Georgia as the regional leader.

Bakhtadze discussed major investment projects, including the Anaklia Deep Sea Port, which he called “a multidimensional business hub.”

Georgia’s tourism potential was also raised, “We are a country with 8.5 million visitors a year, and this year this number will be 9 million, while our total population is roughly 4 million. And I guess you will agree that it is indeed a remarkable achievement. This is something we are very proud of, but we are determined to further continue punching above our weight," said Bakhtadze.

It was not only praise for Georgia’s progress since independence, however. Bakhtadze acknowledged the challenges facing the country, including Russian occupation and the crisis of internally displaced people. “We are not about to let Russia define our future,” the Prime Minister declared defiantly. Georgia’s success, he said, should be evaluated within the regional context.

Bakhtadze noted the major education reforms currently ongoing that he has spearheaded. “We believe that human capital development is a major mission for any government in any country,” he stated.

The purpose of the speech was to raise interest in Georgia among American entrepreneurs and investors. "We welcome, invite, and encourage enterprising Americans to seize these opportunities that are in Georgia. Thanks to our location, our immediate regional market offers access to half a billion people. We offer a truly unique and vital geographic location for American business to reach European and Asian markets. Georgia is a gateway for eight landlocked countries in the heart of the Eurasian Continent, the fastest growing consumer market in the world. This region boasts 18% of all mineral resources in the world. Our strategy is to help these nations to unlock this economic value. We are investing a lot in our infrastructure, and this is the reason we are constructing a deep-sea port in Georgia," Bakhtadze declared.

He closed his remarks by emphasizing the many new public policies aiming to “create an ecosystem for startups and innovations.” Bakhtadze added, “Georgia is about engagement. In the 21st century, the success story should be all about engagement. Georgia is full of hope and aspiration. We are proud of our history. We are part of the global community. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the US and other nations of the world dedicated to democracy and opportunity, and the protection of our civilization and values from those who wish us harm. We need friends like America to help us proceed further.”

By Samantha Guthrie

Image source: Office of the Prime Minister of Georgia

10 June 2019 17:25