Prime Minister's Remarks from the TBRF Discussion - Capture the Investment Opportunities Print Version

2017-11-29

Dear friends,
Dear guests,
Dear representatives of business communities,
I am honored and pleased to welcome you here, in Georgia at "Tbilisi Belt and Road Forum". This is a great opportunity for all of us to discuss the future of this unique initiative that brings peace, prosperity, and cooperation in many countries along this Silk Road route.
Yesterday, we had a very interesting discussion how do we promote cooperation along the Silk Road, how do we smooth the cross-border transactions, and today we have a discussion about Georgia, how do we use the full potential of Georgia as a trade, transit, and logistics hub.
As the synergy suggests, our approach should be based on the win-win principles, when the advantages of the member countries will supplement each other for advanced global development. For the balanced development, it is necessary to mitigate trade barriers and facilitate less developed countries export to reduce trade imbalance. I hope, that in spite of the political challenges the region is facing, we are able to work together in a pragmatic manner without harming fundamental rights of the partners.
Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic integration has been identified as a main priority for the Government of Georgia. It is noteworthy, that Georgia remains one of the strongest allies of the EU in the region and a key security partner, which is confirmed by the EU Global Foreign and Security Strategy.
The aim of the Government of Georgia is to have development strategy, which serves not only the own, but also the regional as well as global goals. Since beginning of this year, spatial development of the country is intensively underway, this will increase country's transit capabilities for the next years. In parallel, we are implementing customs reforms in order to make customs procedures rapid and effective. Government of Georgia is continuously implementing legislative and institutional reforms to ensure more economic cooperation and to fulfill more economic opportunities. We created one of the best investment climates with effective public services, corruption free government and transparent business environment.
The extent of our progress is recognized in a number of international indices. The World Bank's Ease of Doing Business report recently placed Georgia on the 9th position out of 190 countries - a 7 place advancement since the last year. The latest study of the Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World also ranks Georgia the 8th freest economy among 159 countries. In recent years, Georgia has also been recognized by Transparency International as leader in the region in fighting corruption.
To create even more favourable business environment we have launched new comprehensive reform package encompassing key structural reform proposals. The next step in this direction is structural transformation of the economy and inclusive access to the business opportunities guided by our Government's 4-pillar reform agenda, which includes: growth-oriented reforms, Governance reform, Spatial Planning Reform, and Education Reform.
Under growth oriented reforms, we have a list of structural reforms.
· Tax reform - Implies new model of profit tax, which means that undistributed profits are exempt from the profit tax. This reform came into force starting from January this year and is aimed at boosting savings and investments, widening and modernization of production and more liquidity for the private sector, in particular SMEs.

· Pension and capital market reform - which will create new saving system and improve access to long-term financial resources.

· Development of the PPP framework - Reform envisages creation of transparent and efficient PPP framework, which will enhance cooperation between state and private sectors. The main objective of the reform is to send a clear message to investors and financiers that the Government of Georgia is ready to promote and support PPP projects, and to use every bit of the PPP potential in every dollar or euro spent from the sovereign balance of the country.

· Governance reform aims to increase the inclusion of the private sector in the decision-making process, thus ensuring more predictable business environment in Georgia. Moreover, the concept of "Business House", which will ensure the provision of all Government services to the private sector in a single space and with "Single Window" principle has already elaborated. Business House will provide over 600 services to businesses under one centralized location (both physical and digital) currently delivered by more than 60 public institutions. This will significantly reduce time and resources of the private sector needed for dealing with bureaucracy. This does not only mean to create representative offices and to locate them in one space. This means detaching existing front offices from every government agency engaged in providing services to eth legal entities, to optimize them further, and to merge them under one umbrella office which is called Business House. It, of course, needs optimizing government further and making it more efficient, more transparent, and to decrease any chances for corruption further.

· Education Reform - This reform will involve all levels of education system, with particular emphasis on Vocational Education, where dual education model will be applied. The reform aims to tackle skills mismatch problem on the Georgian labor market.

Georgia as the reliable partner for energy transit and one of the key actor of transport axis is actively participating in the major strategic projects and initiatives like the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Supsa oil pipelines, South Gas Corridor, which starts in Azerbaijan, continues through Azerbaijan and Georgia into Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline, and finally Trans-Adriatic pipeline, and ends in Southern Italy. And, of curse, there are more opportunities to bring Central Asian gas from Turkmenistan via Caspian Sea through the South Caucasus corridor further toward Central European countries.
This is also Middle transport corridor of the Silk Road; this is Lapis-Lazuli and Persian-Gulf-Black Sea projects, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, which was recently completed and inaugurated in Baku just very recently, as well as Anaklia deep sea port construction project, which will be the largest greenfield maritime infrastructure project in the region and construction will be launched on 20th of December, 2017. In this regards, we are working closely with countries along the Belt and Road to further improve the connectivity and increase regional cargo turnover.
The Government of Georgia puts a lot of efforts to position the country as a regional hub for trade and global investments. Georgia is a relatively small market to fully utilize economy of scale and increase competitiveness from a global market standpoint, however producing in Georgia means not only having access to local, but also to 2.3 billion consumer markets with whom Georgia enjoys free trade agreements, including the EU, China, Turkey, EFTA, CIS Countries and makes it unique country in the region.
Ladies and gentlemen,
All the aforementioned creates attractive regional "Soft" and "Hard" infrastructure of promoting regional investments and I would like to invite you all to explore new opportunities on our promising market.
Georgia is open for Global business. We offer a low cost and light regulation market, with physical and normative market access. Georgia today makes the case for investment in heavy and light manufacturing, as well as technologies and services. We hope for is that businesses around the globe will view Georgia as a Launchpad for production and distribution to other markets.
In closing, I would like to underline that Georgia attaches great Importance to further extension and intensification of fruitful cooperation with all our partners. Our government stands ready to support your efforts to identify business opportunities in Georgia.
Thank you all once again for your high interest and participation in this important gathering, contributing to further development of multilateral cooperation among the Belt and Road countries.

Thank you very much, and enjoy Tbilisi as a place for business and also pleasure!

Thank you very much!