Prime Minister’s Speech at Seattle World Affairs Council Print Version

2019-06-08

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Mamuka Bakhtadze: Our strategy is to make Georgia a regional hub for tourism, international business, logistics, education, and innovations.

Our strategy is to make Georgia a regional hub for tourism, international business, logistics, education, and innovations, Georgian Prime Minister stated in his speech at the Seattle World Affairs Council.

The Head of Government spoke about Georgia's steps and achievements toward democratic institutions and development.

"For 28 years, we have tried to tread our own democratic course as an independent nation. 28 years ago, we started our path toward building institutions of democracy, creating a justice system that works as a representative accountable democracy. These reforms have also 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. We are on the path to join NATO and the EU. 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. According to IMF, Georgia will stay as the leader in terms of economic growth in the wider region that consists of 28 countries," the Prime Minister said.

The Head of Government emphasized Georgia's logistics opportunities and tourism potential, and also pointed out challenges in these directions.

"We are building a multidimensional business hub on the western coast of the Black Sea. We have all preconditions to succeed, and we are very much determined to do so. 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," the Head of Government stated.

According to Mamuka Bakhtadze, the Government's vision for the future is grounded in the ambition of turning Georgia into a world-class country to live, work, and grow.

The Prime Minister also discussed the challenges facing the country.

"Nonetheless, challenges remain. History in this respect, unfortunately, is not behind us. Russia has occupied 20% of our territories since 2008. After the occupation, 8% of our citizens had to leave their homes. Now we are a proud country with its ancient history. We have survived 70 years of soviet occupation. And, of course, we are not about to let Russia define our future. We are in complete control of our destiny, and our vision for the future is built on the ambition to be a world-class place to live, work, and grow. It may take some time for us to regain our territories, but we will definitely make it. It clearly will not be through the use of force. It will be through the use of democracy, diplomacy, opportunities, development, and humanity," the Prime Minister said.
In discussing Georgia's success, Mamuka Bakhtadze emphasized the regional context, emphasizing that Georgia is the role model for many countries in terms of democratic consolidation and economic transformation.
The Head of Government also singled out Georgia's far-reaching educational reform, according to which 6% of the country's GDP will allocated for education.

"The Parliament of Georgia is now adopting a new legislation, according to which we are dedicating 6% of our GDP, which is 25% of our budget, to education. And that will be a must for any government in the coming decades. We believe that human capital development is a major mission for any government in any country," the Prime Minister stated.

In his speech, the Head of Government urged American entrepreneurs to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Georgia. According to Mamuka Bakhtadze, Georgia is ranked 3rd in terms of low tax regime, while the country maintains a healthy balance between investments in infrastructure and human capital and keeping low taxes.

According to the Prime Minister, Georgia is the most open economy in the world, as evidenced by the World Bank, the IMF, and large investors in Georgia.

"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 8 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 why we are constructing a deep-sea port in Georgia," the Prime Minister underlined.

During his speech, the Head of Government also spoke the green economy policy focusing on protecting environment and preserving natural resources for future generations.

"We will continue to implement one of our most ambitious goals to create an ecosystem for startups and innovations. Georgia has all the preconditions to create its ecosystem. Georgia has a unique historical legacy. Georgia has always been a major hub for education, science, and innovation. 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," the Prime Minister said.

After his speech, the Head of Government answered questions from the council's members. The discussion was moderated by Jacqueline Miller, the President and CEO of the World Affairs Council.

 

Prime Minister's Press Office