US welcomes Georgia’s role as trade-economic hub

The United States said the Silk Road developments emphasized Georgia’s chances to become a trade-economic hub. Photo by, 05 Nov 2015 - 14:39, Tbilisi,Georgia

The United States (US) is welcoming Georgia’s growing economic role in the region as a trade and transportation hub. 

The statement came after a meeting this week between US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili at the fifth plenary session of the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission (SPC), a major bilateral forum that focuses on the relationship between Georgia and the US.

The forum focused on the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Charter, signed in 2009, that covered four major directions: economics, trade and energy, democracy, defence and security, and people-to-people and cultural exchange. 

In an economic sense, both sides noted the significance of the New Silk Road Economic Belt, which aimed to reestablish the historic trade route and connect Asia with Europe via the shortest way. For Georgia this project would have vast importance as it encouraged Georgia to develop itself as a leading transit company and become a regional trade and economic hub.

US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili met in the United States. Photo by Foreign Ministry of Georgia. 

The sides also spoke about forging closer economic and trade relations, and this included the possibility of establishing a Free Trade Agreement between Georgia and the United States, said Blinken. 

 To further deepen the US-Georgia economic partnership, we committed to taking practical steps to seek out opportunities for cooperation in specific sectors, including transportation infrastructure, renewable energy, agriculture, environment, tourism, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) support, intellectual property rights, and innovation and technology development,” the US official added.

When it came to democracy the sides touched on the importance of democratic reforms and respecting the rule of law. Both parties agreed on the importance of preserving an open, pluralistic, and independent media space. 

Defence and security issues were also on the agenda, with Kvirikashvili  and Blinken both agreeing Georgia was making progress towards fulfilling its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. 

Blinken praised the bilateral collaboration to strengthen Georgia’s borders against trans-national organised crime, which resulted in Georgia last year intercepting and seizing the world’s largest-ever heroin shipment. Both sides noted the importance of continuing security sector reforms to protect the human rights of all of Georgia’s citizens.

Before the meeting ended Blinken said the US supported the Georgian Government’s efforts to expand outreach and services to residents of de facto Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) regions.  Kvirikashvili and Blinken noted the value of people-to-people engagement through a wide range of activities to build relationships and advance reconciliation. 

 Both sides applauded the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s historic second compact and its contribution to supporting the Georgian workforce through strategic investments in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and vocational training. The SPC stressed the value of U.S.-sponsored student exchange programs and the importance of expanding cooperation between U.S. and Georgian universities. Both sides agreed to further deepen the partnership in health care, including by expanding collaborative projects in science, communicable and non-communicable diseases, as well as starting new initiatives