Dear Forum Participants,
It is my great pleasure and honor to welcome you to our biennial high-level Forum - Tbilisi Belt and Road Forum, which brings together government officials, international organizations, experts and business representatives to discuss issues pertaining to the constantly evolving regional and global trade landscape.
Georgia was the first country, which organized the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum in October 2015, attended by delegations from 34 countries and addressed ways to enhance transport, energy, trade and people-to-people connectivity that identified new ideas and projects offering opportunities for greater engagement.
The level of economic interdependence between Europe and emerging Asian economies is constantly increasing. Bridging East and West requires strong collaboration between nations to enhance economic, social, cultural, and people-to-people ties. Revival of the Ancient Silk Road through the Belt and Road Initiative is a great step forward in this direction.
In the last decade, the paradigm shift in international trade altered the magnitude and direction of flows in global commerce. Increased connectedness – driven by rapid advancement of digital technology, modern transport infrastructures and intensified people-to-people contacts – created this transformational change. The network of new Free Trade Agreements opened up a world of opportunities by reviving old routes and giving life to new ones.
Changing trends in global trade and connectivity also transformed the way businesses interact and operate. Trade facilitation is the next important step in forging economic development. The Belt and Road initiative holds a powerful vision for regional development and calls for better coordination, connectivity and trade facilitation among countries. Many practical decisions aimed at achieving diversified and open economic relations in Eurasia require close cooperation between regional policymakers, businesses and the international community. This Forum offers a rich opportunity to revisit our bilateral and multilateral goals, discuss progress, review joint projects and reinforce partnerships.
In today’s challenging environment, coordinated policies and joint actions under the Belt and Road initiative is of great importance, which can improve the depth of economic relations and provide all States involved with tremendous opportunity for further economic growth and development. We need more engagement from governments and international community as we set higher goals for achieving more connectivity along the Belt and Road route and beyond.
As a bridge between Europe and Asia, Georgia strives to become a more diversified economy that is better integrated with international markets. Comprehensive regulatory and taxation reforms and efficient border management have created a favourable business environment and significantly improved investment opportunities in the country. Georgia continues to secure its position as a reliable trade and investment partner. Our primary goal is to advance and deepen economic ties in the region and beyond. We believe, that Georgia’s Free Trade Agreements with Europe and China and new infrastructure projects, including Anaklia Deep Sea Port and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway will significantly contribute to connectivity along the Belt and Road and reinforce the goals of regional development. This Forum proposes combining Georgia’s opportunities with those of our regional partners thereby achieving greater economic growth and sustainability for all.
Businesses are both the primary drivers of economic growth and the final beneficiaries of trade reforms, which governments implement. To fully benefit from trade opportunities, businesses also need to develop capacities to access international markets and value chains. Lower administrative, logistical and transport barriers to trade, paired with simplified and harmonized trade system, will help to unlock our joint potential while creating a platform for overarching growth among belt and road countries.
Together we have much to accomplish for our future prosperity. I am confident that through our joint efforts, we will forge stronger partnerships, enhance economy of scale and significantly streamline attraction of the FDI along the Belt and Road.
I also encourage businesses from various sectors and countries to take full advantage of this event and share their experience and achievements, voice their challenges, and find new partners and opportunities.
I strongly believe that this Forum will provide a new opportunity to strengthen and deepen regional connectedness that will boost economic growth, strengthen development, and secure stability. This Forum aims to move beyond words to action, and turn our vision into reality.
Welcome to Georgia!