Regional Forum aims to spark joint projects. რეგიონალური ფორუმი მიზნად ისახავს ერთობლივი პროექტების განხილვას

Regional Forum aims to spark joint projects. რეგიონალური ფორუმი მიზნად ისახავს ერთობლივი პროექტების განხილვას
16 February 2012

Azerbaijan, along with key high- level officials, opened the trilateral Georgia-Turkey-Azerbaijan Business Forum on February 16. The Forum aimed to discuss opportunities for development projects, growth in exports and foreign direct investment among the three countries.

Turkey remains Georgia's largest trading partner with a total turnover that increased from $1.1 billion in 2010 to $1.5 billion in 2011, while Azerbaijan follows next with a total trade turnover of $ 1.03 billion in 2011.

As a further sign of advancing trilateral cooperation between the three countries, in total, more than one-hundred delegates from Azerbaijan and Turkey representing the energy, construction, insurance, financial, food production and engineering sectors visited Georgia to share their experience and present investment plans with their Georgian colleagues.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Economic and Sustainable Development Minister of Georgia, Vera Kobalia, highlighted the importance of developing economic and political relations between the countries. She also emphasized the benefits it held for the development of the region.

"Georgia appreciates the friendship between our neighbors such as Turkey and Azerbaijan […] we have implemented many joint economic projects for the development of our countries and the whole region," Kobalia said.

According to Kobalia, Georgia is ready to increase its economic cooperation with Turkey and Azerbaijan. "This is the first forum of its kind held in Tbilisi where the city was so filled with businessmen; this is clear evidence that many companies are eager to find their business partners here," she added.

Zafer Caglayan, the Minister of Economy of Turkey underscored in his speech Turkey's role in the global economy, especially in Eastern Europe as the world's newly industrialized country. "Turkey is among the world's leading producers of agriculture products, textiles, motor vehicles, ships and other transportation equipment, construction materials, consumer electronics and home appliances and would like to share our experience with you," he added.

Caglayan noted that Georgia has especially close political and economic relations with Turkey and it plans not only to maintain these relations, but to further deepen them. "The visit of the Polish President and business representatives is a clear confirmation of this and in the near future we will see the increased FDI from Turkey in Georgia including in the tourism, healthcare, energy and agriculture sectors," he noted.

Shahin Mustafayev, the Minister of Economic Development of Azerbaijan, highlighted that building greater cooperation with Georgia is a priority. "I am confident that in the near future new agreements on trade and merchandise and the construction and financial sectors will be reached." Over the past year, he said, Azerbaijan has increased its investments in the Georgian economy by 50%.

According Keti Bochorishvili, the Director of the GNIA, which is an arm of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the amount of Turkish and Azerbaijan investment are increasing in Georgia: Turkey and Azerbaijan are on the list of the top ten investors in Georgia over the past several years. Azerbaijan's investment was $23.9 million (1.3% of total investments) in 2008, $29.8 million (4.5% of total investments) in 2009 and 58 million (7.1% of total investments) in 2010.

The figures illustrate a promising picture for Turkish investment as well. The amount of investments decreased but the share in the total investments increased. It was $164.5 million (10.5% of total investments) in 2008, $ 97.9 million (14.9% of total investments) in 2009 and $91.8 million (11.3% of total investments) in 2010.

The Business Forum was co-organized by the Georgian National Investment Agency (GNIA) and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB). In the framework of the event, the Georgian Industrial Group (GIG), the largest holding company operating in diverse sectors, including energy, the acquiring and processing of natural resources, the production of building materials, logistics services, real estate development and media, signed the understanding memorandum with the MIMSAN, a Turkish based machinery construction company on the creation of the coal thermal power plant.

At the end of the sessions, delegates from Turkey scheduled business to business meetings with their Georgian colleagues, where they swapped business cards and exchanged ideas with the hope that this forum would have a follow-up meeting for future business agreements.

Among them was Fikret Cobanoglu, the Commercial Director of Sarkuysan, a Turkish-based electrolytic copper products producer who had a meeting with the representatives of Saqcabel, the biggest manufacturer of cable production in Georgia. "We discussed the opportunities of providing Saqcabel with the raw materials for producing the cables.

While visiting Georgia, the economic development ministers of Turkey and Azerbaijan also met with the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili.