Georgia is Hosting Tbilisi Silk Road Forum

On October 22-23, Tbilisi is hosting the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum. The event follows on from the success of the Tbilisi Silk Road Forums of 2017 and 2015. The 2019 gathering will provide an excellent platform to discuss new ideas and opportunities in the fast-changing world and to initiate high-level discussion on potential cooperation in the areas of trade, transport, infrastructure, innovations and energy.
All goes back to 2015 when Georgia, one of the first countries to respond to the Silk Road Forum initiative, signed with China on 9 March 2015 a Memorandum of Understanding on the New Silk Road which was initiated by China in 2013.
Hosting the Silk Road Forum in Tbilisi serves the purpose of boosting not only Georgia’s economic development, but that of the entire region and beyond. The aim is to attract international business communities to explore investment opportunities and further sustainable development in Georgia.
The Silk Road Forum has already been transformed into a platform for an annual high level meeting where interested parties work together to explore opportunities, align visions and enhance bilateral partnerships in four main areas of cooperation: transport, energy, trade and business-to-business contacts.
This year, the forum will specifically focus on discussions/issues related to understanding stability and sustainable growth patterns, artificial intelligence as a key to innovation driven growth and the impact of its development on the global economy. The changing landscape of global trade, increasing role of energy corridors through developing the energy belt on the New Silk Road, as well as emerging opportunities for improvement of transport links under the New Silk Road will be discussed at various side events and many panels during the two-day event. Among the panels will be: Trade2Win, The Future of Energy - Emerging trends, Security and Sustainability of the Silk Road Energy Belt and beyond, Innovation driven growth - Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the Silk Road.
Particular attention will be paid to High Level Dialogue, Towards the Common Future: Understanding Stability and Sustainable growth patterns; and Connecting to Europe – The Development of the Extended TEN-T.
The forum, in which hundreds of foreign investors and politicians from 60 countries will participate, will also strive to define the means of cooperation and chart a common vision for overcoming obstacles in the increasingly unstable modern world. Doing this through dialogue, research, initiatives and joint projects will be a defining outcome of the forum.
Yet another importance of the forum will be its emphasis on showcasing Georgia as a growing destination for new investment opportunities, possibilities for networking, exchanging ideas and finding the means for business, and, most of all as a rising place on the Silk Road connecting Europe with China and other Asian states.
One of the high dignitaries of the forum will be the Undersecretary of State of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Mr. Ivan Scalfarotto.
“The Silk Road Forum offers a valuable platform to discuss trade, energy and connectivity with qualified public and private sector representatives,” he said. “This precious initiative is a testimony to the commitment of Georgia to taking full advantage of its geostrategic location, at the crossroads of two continents, and serving as a convenient corridor between east and west, along the old and new Silk Road.
“If Georgia is a natural host of the Silk Road Forum, Italy is a natural participant,” Scalfarotto went on. “Italy has always been a terminal of the Silk Road (suffice it to think of Marco Polo, the famous Venetian merchant). Enjoying the second manufacturing trade surplus in the EU and the fifth at a global level, our country is naturally oriented towards an open, rules-based trade system. In a moment when international trade is facing unprecedented challenges, it is important to provide opportunities of dialogue among States, but also private companies and civil societies, in order to foster inclusive and effective solutions.”
Georgia historically has played an important role in the development of the ancient Silk Road, which connected China and Central Asia to Europe and vice-versa. Georgia’s historic ability to engage with both East and West was largely conditioned by its crucial location at a strategic regional crossroads. It continues to play this role today and is likely to grow ever more as a transit trade point between China and Europe in the coming decades. The country will develop its regional infrastructure, such as new Black Sea ports and improve its East-West rail networks, which will provide crucial new corridors from Europe to the growing economies of China and Central Asian countries.
Due to its geographical location, Georgia has the potential to perform an important function in the transcontinental trade corridor. The Silk Road, as a global initiative, implies joint projects, enhanced trade, attracting more investments and enhanced economic cooperation between the countries involved in the project. Georgia has all the resources to fulfill the function of regional, transport and infrastructural, financial and industrial hub in the Europe-Asia Transport Corridor. Georgia's involvement in the new Silk Road project enhances trade-economic ties between Georgia and the participating countries, contributes to attracting additional investments and creates new jobs,” said Otar Sharikadze, Managing Director of Galt & Taggart.
Georgia has all the resources to fulfill its regional, transport-infrastructure and industrial hub function in the Europe-Asia Transport Corridor. To this end, the Government of Georgia is undertaking major reforms and projects to develop Georgia's land, rail, maritime transport infrastructure, build transport-logistics centers, increase ports, new terminals and cargo service opportunities.
In the long run, Georgia's Free Trade Agreements with China and European countries, its geographical location, attractive investment environment and market openness, correct economic policies and reforms, positively assessed by international financial institutions and authorized ratings, and its growing economy are important foundations for achieving the goals that should bring Georgia back to its historic gate and further enhance its role in modern economic relations between Europe and Asia.

By Emil Avdaliani

21 October 2019 18:00