Georgian & German Business Representatives Hold Roundtable Talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Georgia August 23-24, participating in a series of meetings and press conferences. Within the framework of her visit, Georgia’s Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Giorgi Kobulia, met with representatives of the German business sector, and roundtable talks were held between representatives of the Georgian and German business sectors. Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Giorgi Cherkezishvili, and the German Parliamentary Secretary for Economy and Energy, Thomas Bareiß, opened the discussions.

Attendees from the Georgian side included representatives of different government agencies, the Partnership Fund, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Georgian Railways, the Georgian Business Association, and other business unions.

The German side was represented by the heads of large companies, including Knauf Gips KG, Ernst Klett AG, Deutsche Bahn AG, Caisley International GmbH, GP Günter Papenburg AG, Cronimet Holding AG/Cronimet Mining AG, and Giesecke & Devrient.

It was noted at the meeting that Germany is one of the most important partner countries for Georgia and the Georgian side welcomes the deepening of relations between the two countries in terms of enhancing of the trade and economic ties and expanding cooperation in attracting of investments.

Mikhail Khidureli, Director General of the Enterprise Georgia Agency, presented participants with an overview of the economic environment and local business climate in Georgia, followed by a question and answer session where the German business leaders assessed the Georgian sector in more detail.

Before the roundtable, Deputy Minister Cherkezishvili released a statement emphasizing the economic importance of Merkel’s visit. Germany is one of Georgia’s most important trading partners, noted Cherkezishvili. Georgian exports to the EU have increased by more than 20% over the past seven months, of which 36% of Georgian exports went to Germany. "It is important that [Georgian exports are] diversified and include a wide range of products. During this visit it will once again be noted that Georgia is the best country in terms of reforms and investment attractiveness. This is our main priority, which we will reintroduce, and we will talk about these conditions with businesses,” Cherkezishvili added.

During her visit, Merkel gave advice to Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze on economic development, emphasizing the importance of inclusive growth. “Small and medium enterprises are very important,” the Chancellor said, as quoted by Commersant, “Young people should have the opportunity to establish an enterprise. They should have the opportunity to develop their own sectors and get a cheap loan. The greater the diversification, the greater variety, the less big enterprises, the better. As the country is developing rapidly, naturally, the number of small and medium companies should increase. The [DCFTA] free trade agreement with the European Union is a great...opportunity for Georgia, providing access to the European market. Those who want to be independent, self-sufficient, must take advantage of these opportunities legally and economically.” [Edited for clarity]

In a statement release by the Prime Minister’s Press Office after the end of Merkel’s visit on Friday, Bakhtadze said, “We have full support for our new policy, covering the achievement of inclusive economic growth in Georgia, support of small and medium enterprises (SME), start-up capital reform and many other initiatives. At the same time, we spoke about regional cooperation, very important projects that envisage energy security, supply of additional resources to the EU market. Georgia has a unique role in this.” He mentioned the agreement between Germany’s KfW and the Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation to enhance the country’s energy independence by building an underground natural gas storage facility, and transportation projects including the relationship between Deutsche Bahn and Georgian Railway – the company Bakhtadze led before becoming Prime Minister. “It is essential to augment the superb and massive progress achieved between Germany and Georgia with subsequent economic cooperation...We will by all means achieve our goals with the support of our friends," he concluded.

By Samantha Guthrie

27 August 2018 16:55