Address by Irakli Garibashvili, Georgian Prime Minister at World Government Summit

"Our goal is to develop Georgia into a true multi-dimensional regional hub, and we are actively working with the world's leading firms and brightest minds. As Georgia serves 8 landlocked countries and is a gateway between Europe and Asia, my country already plays a significant role in the East-West trade", PM said. Photo: Gov't press office, 13 Feb 2023 - 12:58, Tbilisi,Georgia

Your Highnesses, Excellencies,Dear Friends,It is my great honour to address you all today at the UAE World Government Summit. I would like to extend my warmest greetings to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and the Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, and the esteemed members of the UAE Government.

Dear Friends, the UAE has always been at the forefront of innovation and progress, and this Summit serves as a testament to the country's unwavering commitment to promoting global cooperation. The theme of this year's Summit, "Shaping Future Governments," is particularly appropriate as we look ahead to a new era of technological, social, and economic advancement.

As we gather here today, I am filled with hope and optimism for the future, knowing that under the leadership of our distinguished hosts, the UAE will continue to play a vital role in shaping the world for the better.

My Government has a vision for a strong Georgia committed to a free market economy and democratic institutions, which is reflected in our multidimensional approach that is ensuring overall stability for the Georgian people. We have been developing effective and efficient policies and are solidifying our vision through robust actions.

Despite the grave geopolitical situation and challenges in the region and declining global economic prospects, Georgia has managed to maintain economic stability. At the national level, our Government has initiated multi-stakeholder efforts to increase investment in public goods. Because of the Government’s strong economic policy, as well as the increased economic activity in transport and logistics, financial services, construction, energy and service sectors, including tourism, the trend of high economic growth continued in 2022. After 10.5% economic growth in 2021, 10.1% growth was recorded in last year. According to the IMF's forecast, in 2023-2027, Georgia will have the highest growth among the countries of the region and Europe - 5% per year on average.

A significant increase in foreign direct investments (FDI) was also observed in 2022, the volume of which was doubled compared to the previous year by more than 100%. Our decisive actions helped to create more than 200 000 jobs over the past two years in Georgia. We have also succeeded in terms of stabilising inflation at 9.4% last year with the target of 5% for 2023. Many large-scale energy, infrastructure and logistics projects are underway or planned to further stimulate our economy and bring greater prosperity to our people.

Our goal is to develop Georgia into a true multi-dimensional regional hub, and we are actively working with the world's leading firms and brightest minds. As Georgia serves 8 landlocked countries and is a gateway between Europe and Asia, my country already plays a significant role in the East-West trade.

Georgia offers international firms a competitive environment for expanding their businesses in the larger region that will reduce their operational costs. In Georgia, companies can take advantage of access to over 2.3 billion potential customers without customs and import tariffs. Georgia has free trade agreements with China, CIS and EFTA countries, and Turkey. In addition, we enjoy the benefits of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the EU.

Over the past decade, we have succeeded in making Georgia as one of the best places in the world to do business. Of note, Georgia has one of the lowest tax rates in the world. Based on the World Bank, Georgia is 3rd Least Tax Burdened Country with the total tax rate of 9.9%. Further, based on the most recent World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report (2020), Georgia is 7th easiest country to do business globally.

Georgia also offers a compelling value proposition for investors as we have created a model in which retained earnings are exempt from the Corporate Income Tax. Further, Georgia has 4 Free Industrial Zones (FEZ). Enterprises operating in these zones and manufacturing goods for export are exempt from taxes. All of these contribute to Georgia’s position as an attractive destination for doing business. The Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World 2022 report has placed Georgia among the top 15 nations with the freest economy. According to the International Budget Partnership’s (IBP) 2021 Open Budget Survey (OBS), Georgia is ranked 1st out of 120 countries in the global ranking in State Budget Transparency. Based on the Investment Policy Assessment’s FDI Regulatory Restrictiveness Index, Georgia is ranked 8th among more than 80 countries as one of the most open economies in the world in terms of attracting investments. The Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom 2022 ranks Georgia 18th in Europe - well ahead of many EU member states, with the global ranking of 26th out of 177 countries. These recognitions are testament to the tremendous progress we have made in promoting economic freedom and creating a more prosperous future for all citizens.

The concept of economic freedom is essential to our country's development and stability. By fostering an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, we are attracting investment, creating jobs, and improving the standard of living for our people.

To support Georgia’s position as a regional hub for trade and logistics, the Government invests heavily to develop both soft and hard infrastructure. Regional initiatives in the energy sector and infrastructure, such as the development of the Black Sea Submarine Electricity Transmission Cable, Euro-Asian Oil Transportation Corridor, Southern Gas Corridor, Railway modernisation, expansion of airports, building East-West Highway along with development of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port, will increase the capacity of our region, and that of Georgia. These projects, Dear Friends, are especially relevant, given the ever-growing importance of diversifying and expanding Europe-Asia trade routes, also taking into account the fact that the so-called Middle Corridor is considered as a viable alternative to existing routes.

A number of infrastructural projects are of strategic importance to us and our international partners, including the Black Sea Submarine Electricity Transmission Cable project, which will create transit opportunities/back-to-back trade options of green renewable energy across the Black Sea via Georgia. I would also like to highlight the development of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port, which will increase Georgia’s capabilities to ship large quantities of both dry and liquid cargoes. Additionally, we are already discussing a list of the so-called “flagship projects” with our EU partners, which will bring additional economic synergies and serve as a catalyst for more connectivity and integration with the European and Asian markets. We believe all countries of the South Caucasus and allies from East and West will benefit from these projects.

However, neither strengthening of the economy nor the development of the regional hub is feasible without proper planning and a steadfast commitment to democratic values. That is why, last year, we adopted Vision 2030 - a development strategy of Georgia, which is a comprehensive national policy document that guides the country's policy planning and coordination. It outlines key objectives and priorities for nationwide development by 2030, aligned with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. The Strategy aims at promoting sustainable economic growth, social equality, security and stability, democracy and rule of law in Georgia.

While taking decisive actions, the Georgian Government maintains transparency and openness of its work, and sets high standards in the fields of open governance, fight against corruption and safety. Our efforts found refection in several major indices, including in Transparency International’s “The Corruption Perception Index 2022”, which ranks Georgia 41st out of 180 countries in the world. Also, Georgia is ahead of many EU and NATO countries according to the World Bank's 2021 governance indicators. According to the World Justice Project's 2022 Rule of Law Index, Georgia is ranked 1st in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. Last, but not least, pursuant to the NUMBEO Crime Index 2023, Georgia is ranked 18th, as one of the safest countries in the world, and 8th safest in Europe.

Considering all the progress we have made, like never before, today Georgia aspires to become a member of the EU and NATO. We submitted an EU membership application as a concrete response to the longstanding choice of the Georgian people. On June 23, 2022, the European Council recognised the European Perspective for Georgia, which reaffirmed that Georgia’s future is in the EU.

We are determined to swiftly progress on the EU accession path, and the candidate status is our next immediate milestone. All of the above illustrate that the Georgian Government is flexible and responsive to new regional and global socio-economic and political developments. Even though the environment around Georgia is constantly changing and evolving, we stay loyal to our national interests and shared values, while serving the needs of our citizens. Subsequently, the confidence our partners have in Georgia stems directly from our steady progress and demonstrated commitment to democracy, as well as our real accomplishments in recent years.

In closing, I would like to emphasise that our vision for Georgia is to make it a symbol of stability, peace, opportunities and development. We are committed to creating a strong, dynamic economy that benefits all our citizens. At the same time, we are building a society that is inclusive, innovative and forward-looking.

As we move forward, let us remember that our goal is to make Georgia a shining example of what is possible when people come together to achieve a common vision. In doing so, we take inspiration from the UAE’s remarkable development story. We have the resources, the talent and the determination to succeed, and I am confident that together, we will make our vision a reality.Thank you!