Mamuka Bakhtadze's speech about trade and investments in China:
It is my great pleasure to be here, today with all of you, participating in this very important event while at the same time representing my country, Georgia.
To start off, we are a small country with rich history serving as a natural bridge between East and West. We are not only geographic link, but we have been serving as a point of intersection of two greatest civilizations for centuries, which has greatly impacted us, both in terms of culture as well as the knowledge. Knowledge of many things, but most importantly, our pride - Wine. We have many other prides as well, but I guess you should all come and see it yourself otherwise today won't be enough for me.
Last year in Bordeaux, even French admitted that Georgia is Cradle of Wine. Our history of wine making is of around 8 000 years. Whoever tasted our wine, can now understand why it is so special, because you can feel the kick of love that we, Georgians put in every single wine drop that we produce.
Georgia is a newly emerged market, striving to become integral part of the global economy, more diversified and better integrated in international markets. Our government's top priority is to develop the most business friendly framework that one can offer.
Our recent successes in World Bank's Doing Business is a clear example that our reform oriented agenda proves to be very successful. We are N6 according to Ease of Doing Business in the World. To continue, IMF forecasts that Georgia will be leader in terms of Economic Growth in the Region. We are 16th freest economy according to Heritage Foundation and are N5 in Transparency and Open Budget Index (OBI). I am not finished :) Georgia is one of the lowest Tax Burden countries in the world with 9.9% total tax rate according to the World Bank, which places us 3rd in the world.
With all these, it's not a surprise that we have huge plans and ambitions to become regional hub not only for tourism and logistics, but for Business and Financial Services as well. We have been historically center of the region and with this kind of pioneering approaches we are cementing our regional role for many more years to come.
Georgia is the only country in the Region with free trade agreements, both with China as well as the European Union. Furthermore, we have free trade regimes with EFTA (Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Iceland), the CIS countries, Turkey and Hong Kong, which significantly increases country's export and investment potential, allowing companies in Georgia to get a duty free access to the market of 2.3 billion people.
Georgia serves 8 landlocked countries and is the safest gateway from East to West and vice versa.
With conclusion of Free Trade Agreement between Georgia and China, we marked the beginning of historic partnership, we brought a mutually important milestone on Bilateral Trade and Economic Relations of two countries. Here we should mention that it's not only two countries - looking at Georgia everyone should look at the region as well.
Since FTA between Georgia and China was signed, our bilateral relations have elevated to a totally new level and became a prime example of mutually beneficial cooperation. In 2017 China was Georgia's 3rd largest trade partner and fifth biggest export destination, while in first 9 months of 2018, we can already observe that trade turnover amounted to 811 MLN USD, making China 3rd largest trade partner. Thus, I am ascertained that this upward trend is set to continue with further synergy with new dimensions and avenues of cooperation between our countries.
As I have already said in the beginning of my speech, it is great honor to be here today. China International Import Expo is an initiative of the Government of China aiming to improve the trade imbalance in the region. We believe that CIIE will serve as a powerful tool for trade facilitation, which will ultimately result into an increased global trade via one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world.
Today, at CIIE we have 50 Georgian companies that have their products displayed along with our national pavilion.
This is a great opportunity for Georgian enterprises to become part of the global trade. This kind of platforms bring in additional momentum to the engine of global economic growth, through promotion and support to producers all over the world. In the era of Global Economic Frictions initiatives such as China's International Import Expo is a powerful component to support integration of different stakeholders in Global Economy, while stimulating sustainable growth, this is the exactly type of future that I envision for Georgia: sustainable economy, fully integrated in the global ecosystem, thus being diversified and less vulnerable to the challenges that nowadays threaten economic stability of smaller nations.
It notes mentioning that just recently, we have decided to start Georgia's transformation to one of the leaders in Green Economy via promotion of Sustainable Business Practices and support of such developments via Governmental initiatives aiming to dramatically reduce carbon emissions - and develop truly Eco Friendly Nation. We see ourselves in production of non GMO, Bio Products as well as through utilization of our hydro resources - production of energy, exclusively from only sustainable energy sources.
On this path it is of principal importance to have strong human capital, especially in the modern era, where only those who have first class knowledge and top education are the ones who are more likely to create value. This is not the case in number of examples, but we cannot allow to have bottlenecks in our Education. For that very reason we have started to develop very complex and comprehensive reform in education sector and we are aiming to devote two digit share of our GDP to this direction annually.
Along with all these initiatives, we stress considerable portion of our efforts on Infrastructural development. By 2023 we are aiming to finish all major infrastructural projects for increased connectivity. Georgia has become a vital transit and energy corridor connecting East and West. Pipelines linking Caspian oil and gas fields to Turkey and Europe pass through Georgia, as well as new road and rail networks that make Georgia an important logistical hub. Further development of our Black Sea ports, including the new Anaklia Deep Sea port, strengthens Georgia's position as a key player of the Belt and Road initiative primarily concentrating on EAST-WEST Trade facilitation. We offer the shortest and safest route from Asia to Europe. It only takes 10 days for a Train from East China ports to reach Georgia through so called Middle Corridor. So far, this is the shortest transit route for Chinese cargo to reach Europe and vice versa.
In 21st century we cannot speak about economic growth without discussing digital dimensions, we fully acknowledge importance of digital solutions and know-hows in Country's economy. For that very reason, Georgia was one of the first countries who introduced Blockchain technologies in Public Services and we further continue introduction of different hi tech innovations.
Our goal is to make Georgia new CENTRE OF GRAVITY for investors, for that we are very much determined to introduce all the necessary measures and reforms. I often characterize our current state as a country that does not have low hanging fruits left in terms of reforms. Now we have difficult task on the table that we are motivated to accomplish. We tirelessly continue to punch above our weight and in December we will be signing Memorandum with International Chamber of Commerce to introduce International Arbitrage in Georgia. Tbilisi will be second office of ICC's International Arbitrage in Europe after Paris. We want to create best possible environment for investors and International Arbitrage will be a definite game changer not only for Georgia but for the region in whole.
Finally, with the support of Georgian case study I have tried to answer how we view current state of Trade and Investment and how Georgia addresses philosophy and everything that comes with it. Thank you for attention.