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Page 1

Issue no: 1232/221

• MARCH 3 - 5, 2020 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

FOCUS ON TURKEY

The Turkish Ambassador to Georgia speaks out about Syria and regional relations

PAGE 6

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Weekly Entrepreneurial News @entrepreneur.ge NEWS PAGE 2

Excess Inflation Drags Down 2020 GDP Forecast: Growth Helped by Strong Exports, Remittances & December’s Tourism Numbers ISET PAGE 4

TBC Bank Presents Annual Report to Business Sector BUSINESS PAGE 5

EU4Youth: Georgian Youth Club Promotes Personal Growth

Georgia & the World: Coronavirus Updates BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDE

T

BUSINESS PAGE 7

Turkey’s Evolving Approach to its Neighborhood: The Case of Georgia & Ukraine BUSINESS PAGE 10

he week has seen more and more countries announcing their first cases of coronavirus-related infections and deaths. Indonesia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Scotland and the Dominican Republic have all confirmed their first cases of the Covid-2019 in the past seven days, while the US reported its first, and then second, fatal cases. China’s latest data on the coronavirus outbreak reported 42 new deaths. The new report took the death toll in China to 2,912, and worldwide to 3,050. The number of patients who have recovered is said to be 45,153. The epidemic continues to boom in Europe. In Italy, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in Europe, the number of people infected jumped in

Hotel Four Points by Sheraton to Open in Bakuriani in 2022 BUSINESS PAGE 11 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

Markets

Image source: Tbilisi City Hall

Asof28ͲFebͲ2020

STOCKS

a day, the total number as of Monday being 1,694. France also saw an increase, the number now standing at 130. However, perhaps noting one fact rather than these numbers would have been enough to represent the growing concerns in Europe: the Louvre, a museum that has survived wars, has now closed down because of the fear of coronavirus. In the East, the novel coronavirus is showing no signs of slowing down either. Iran has reported 11 more deaths from the virus, which brings the country’s death toll to 54, the most outside of China. Having Armenia and Azerbaijan report their first coronavirus cases increases the concern in the South Caucasus. Georgia has shut and is disinfecting public spaces and schools, warning the country’s citizens to follow hygiene rules to keep from further spreading the virus. Continued on page 3

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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

MARCH 3 - 5, 2020

@entrepreneur.ge Gamarjoba! I’m the Editor-in-Chief of the Georgian edition of Entrepreneur magazine and I’m here to share the top weekly Entrepreneurial news with you:

Geostat: Annual Inflation Rate Was 6.4% in February 2020

Georgian brand Tami Sport is there to make sure you’re motivated to keep up your healthy lifestyle. It offers premium class sportswear with a unique, stylish design. Founder Tamar Gelashvili created Studio Tami, for women like her who exercise professionally, and Fitlab Georgia- a store of sport accessories. Tami Sport wear has been given the thumbs up by sportspersons and the brand is now planning to export. Geoposter creates posters with Georgian touristic themes, aiming to popularize the country internationally. Founder Lika Chalaganidze partners with illustrators and designers to offer posters which show Georgia, its regions and symbols, from a unique perspective. The posters showing off the beauties of Georgia are getting ready to travel around the world as the high touristic season approaches. Tertmeti kicked off on March 11, at exactly 11:11, when Levan Suramelashvili decided to produce belt bags, his inspiration coming from traveling around Europe and seeing the shops and museums of famous designers. He spent six months perfecting the first model and started selling the bags online once he’d made 100. After participating in Fashion Market, the number of Tertmeti customers grew. Expansion plans include creating lines of Premium Class and Luxury bags.

BY ANA DUBADZE

I

Follow the Entrepreneur Georgia Instagram page to get the latest updates from Georgian Entrepreneurs. For doing business with Georgian Entrepreneurs, write us on business@entrepreneur.ge

n February 2020 the Consumer Price Index increased by 0.3% compared to the previous month, while the annual inflation rate amounted to 6.4%,thelatestdatafromtheNational Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat) shows. With regard to the annual core inflation, the prices increased by 4.6%, while the annual core inflation without tobacco amounted to 3.8%. The monthly inflation rate was mainly influenced by price changes for the following groups: Food and non-alcoholic beverages: the prices in the group increased by 1.3%, contributing 0.4 percentage points to the overall monthly inflation rate.

Within the group, the prices were higher for the following subgroups: vegetables (8.0%), fruit and grapes (3.6%), mineral waters, soft drinks, fruit and vegetable juices (1.7%), sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery (0.7%). In addition, the prices decreased for oils and fats (-0.6%) and milk, cheese and eggs (-0.3%); Clothing and footwear: the prices decreased by 3.1%, contributing -0.11 percentage points to the overall monthly inflation rate. The prices went down for both footwear (-6.0%) and clothing (-1.4%); Transport: the prices decreased by 0.7%, which resulted in a -0.08 percentage point contribution to the overall annual inflation rate. The prices decreased for the purchase of vehicles (-1.2%) and the operation of personal transport equipment (-1.0%). The annual inflation rate was mainly

influenced by price changes for the following groups: Food and non-alcoholic beverages: the prices in the group increased by 12.7%, contributing 3.95 percentage points to the overall annual inflation rate. Within the group the prices were higher for the following subgroups: fruit and grapes (25.1%), milk, cheese and eggs (19.2%), meat (15.1%), sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery (11.2%), vegetables (11.1%), fish (10.3%), mineral waters, soft drinks, fruit and vegetable juices (8.7%), oils and fats (7.4 %), bread and cereals (5.6%) and coffee, tea and cocoa (5.0%); Restaurants and hotels: the prices went up by 8.7%, contributing 0.39 percentage points to the overall annual inflation rate. The prices in the group increased for catering services (9.5%) and accommodation services (1.3%).

Georgian Economy Minister Attends Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial in Baku BY TEA MARIAMIDZE

G

eorgian Minister of Economy Natia Turnava, who took part in the 6th Ministerial Meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) Advisory Council in Baku, stated that Georgia plays a very important geopolitical role in the development of the Southern Gas Corridor. The Minister added that Georgia will receive serious benefits from the implementation of the SGC project, and noted that the achievement of the Southern Gas Corridor project once again highlights the role of joint efforts by states in the successful development of international projects of such importance. “Last November, the Georgian Prime Minister attended the inauguration of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), which is in fact a continuation of the Shah Deniz project. Before this, BP completed the second phase of Shah Deniz development, which will also bring increased volumes of transit gas. This means that Georgia plays a very important role in the development of alternative routes for gas not only in the region but in the whole world,” she stated after the meeting. Turnava noted that 17 different countries, mainly European states, are already interested in participating in the SGC project. "Georgia and our population will receive serious benefits as the quota of gas our state receives from this transit function increases. In the end, all this

Image source: Ministry of Economy of Georgia

is aimed at better supply of natural gas to our country, our population, our enterprises,” the Minister said, adding she is glad her country has another opportunity to demonstrate its role in this context. The $40 billion Southern Gas Corridor project, initiated by Azerbaijan and providing for the transportation of gas from the Caspian region through Georgia and Turkey to European countries, is a priority for the EU. It is aimed at

diversifying routes and sources of energy supplies, thus contributing to strengthening the European energy security. Azerbaijani media reports that TAP construction progress as of late January was 92%, adding the work on segments of the mega project, such as the expansion of the South Caucasus gas pipeline and the construction of TANAP, is almost complete. During her visit to Azerbaijan, Turnava held important meetings with the

Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Ali Asadov, as well as with the Ministers of Economy and Energy of Azerbaijan. During the meetings, the Georgian Minister stated that very close, business and friendly relations exist between the two countries, which promote the development of joint projects, including the accelerated completion of the BakuTbilisi-Kars railway project. "We also have talks about completely new, exciting projects in the Black Sea

that could involve the relevant Azerbaijani state or private structures, which will, in general, increase the competitiveness of our common corridor," she added. “We are also considered a new initiative, providing for the construction of a high-voltage line along the bottom of the Black Sea, which will connect Georgia with the EU energy market," Turnava said. The Minister noted that the project will certainly be of more significant commercial interest if Azerbaijan, Georgia’s reliable partner, takes part in it. “Azerbaijan is actively involved in the process of supplying us with electricity during periods when the Georgian energy market is in short supply," she noted. Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan Mikael Jabarov noted after meeting Turnava that Georgia is a very important economic partner for Azerbaijan. He noted that Azerbaijani companies are very active and are making significant investments in the Georgian economy. "We discussed the current status of projects, as well as future opportunities for cooperation not only in terms of the economic circulation and intensification of investments, but also in terms of our national economies in order to make our markets more attractive to both domestic and international foreign investments,” he said. The parties also discussed projects implemented in the fields of energy, export and transit, including container and non-container shipping, future joint investment projects and trade issues.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 3 - 5, 2020

3

Govt' Works to Determine Coronavirus Impact on Georgian Economy BY ANA DUMBADZE

T

he Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia is working to determine the effects of the spread of the coronavirus on the country's economy and will submit detailed information at the next sitting of the Intera-

gency Coordination Council, Ekaterine Mikabadze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, announced after a meeting of the Interagency Coordination Council led by Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia. She noted that active work is being done to inform the public about the potential impact of the spread of coronavirus on the Georgian economy. “The Coordination Council has been informed of current trends. The impact

of the new epidemic is already visible throughout the world, however, it will depend significantly on the seasonality and spread of the virus itself," she said. The First Deputy Minister added that in accordance with the Coordination Council's instructions, the Georgian Railway would carry out disinfection works at railway stations and in trains to prevent the spread of the disease.

Georgia & the World: Coronavirus Updates Continued from page 1 Monday’s reports say that Georgia has three confirmed cases of the coronavirus. All these patients are citizens of Georgia and are being treated in the Tbilisi Infections Hospital. Two were in Iran, and one, a woman of 31, flew back home from Italy. Their condition remains stable, and on Monday morning the TV media reported that the patients do not have a temperature. On Sunday, Amiran Gamkrelidze, Director of the National Center for Disease Control, presented a report on the coronavirus situation in Georgia. While talking numbers, he also mentioned the flights canceled and the ones still coming into Georgia. “It is very important to monitor people coming from high-risk countries.

The flow of people from Iran and China has been almost suspended, while many are still coming into Georgia from Italy. Different quarantine and self-isolation regimes are being implemented countrywide. 119 people have been placed in quarantine,” Gamkrelidze said. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on Georgian citizens to refrain from traveling to Italy, especially in its northern regions, given the high prevalence of coronavirus in the country. On Monday morning, Doctor Mairna Endeladze reported to the press about the conditions of the 19 people in the isolation ward of the Tbilisi Infections Hospital. “Currently, we are awaiting the results of the examination of eight patients. The health of all patients, including the three infected with coronavirus, is sta-

ble and satisfactory. We have enough places allocated in the quarantine zone. There are 19 patients with suspicious symptoms; however, the process of receiving new patients is ongoing. All of them are citizens of Georgia who traveled to Italy and Iran," the doctor said. The neighboring countries of Armenia and Georgia have both shut their public schools to ensure the spread of the virus goes no further. In the former, the schools were shut for a week, while Georgia announced schools will be shut from March 2 to 16. During the suspension, the school buildings are being put through intensive disinfection works in hopes of preventing the further spread of the virus. The order was given by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and

Sport of Georgia, which further reports that schools are being sanitized using 10 different disinfectants. Kindergartens, which have also been shut, will also be subject to disinfection, as will public transportation. In addition, all state colleges and many private schools have also closed for two weeks, making the health of their students their priority. On Sunday, in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, Georgia’s Interagency Council recommended the abolition of crowded events in public places. The information was soon provided to local governments, who acted accordingly, postponing and cancelling the planned large events throughout the country. Late on Sunday night, the disinfection works were also taken into the under-

ground of Tbilisi: the Tbilservice Group carried out disinfection works in 54 underground tunnels. Romeo Mikautadze, the head of the company, says that the disinfection works will continue as necessary in the following days. Republic Hospital in Tbilisi has 18 patients who are being monitored but none have yet been diagnosed with coronavirus. The number of patients in the Infections Hospital changes by the minute, but Sunday night was the first night when they didn’t bring in patients with possible coronavirus symptoms since Georgia joined the coronavirus craze. Georgia now has eight people who are being closely monitored, the results of whose tests will be reported shortly. Keep up to date with the latest on georgiatoday.ge.


4

BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

MARCH 3 - 5, 2020

Excess Inflation Drags Down 2020 GDP Forecast: Growth Helped by Strong Exports, Remittances & December’s Tourism Numbers had negative effects on growth predictions .

IMPROVED EXTERNAL STATISTICS

I

SET-PI has updated its forecast of Georgia’s real GDP growth rate for the first and second quarters of 2020. Here are the highlights of this month’s release:

HIGHLIGHTS • GeoStat has published its rapid estimate of real GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2019. Their estimated growth stands at 5.3%, which is 0.7 percentage points above ISET-PI’s most recent forecast. The annual real GDP growth for 2019 amounted to 5.2%. • The real GDP growth rate reached 5.1% year-on-year for January 2020. • ISET-PI’s forecast for the first quar-

ter of 2020 now stands at 4.9%—up from 4.3% in January. The second quarter growth forecast currently stands at 5.6%. • Based on the data from December, we expect annual growth in 2020 to be 5.0% in the worst-case scenario, and 6.1% in the best-case or the average long-term growth scenario. Our middleof-the-road scenario (based on average growth in the last four quarters) predicts a 5.4% increase in real GDP. According to ISET-PI’s recent forecast, GDP growth for the first quarter of 2020 increased from 4.3% to 4.9%. This correction can be explained by the fact that it is the first time our model has taken into consideration the rapid estimate

of Q4 GDP growth. As already mentioned in our previous publication, estimated real GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2020 amounted to 5.3%, which is 0.7 percentage points above our predicted 4.6%. Otherwise, looking at the economic landscape from the standpoint of the December data, several variables changed significantly and affected growth predictions in different ways. Improved external statistics and an increased number of deposits are the main contributors to the GDP growth, while the annually depreciated (monthly appreciated) Real Effective Exchange Rate (REER) and excessive inflation

The first variable which has had a significant positive effect on the predicted real GDP growth is related to the external sector. Georgia’s exports continued to expand, increasing by 18.7% yearly in December 2019, while imports were up by 12.8%. The trade deficit, however, deepened by 8.9% yearly, and amounted to 536.7 million US dollars. Furthermore, double-digit growth in the export statistics was driven by increased re-export of motor cars to Armenia and Ukraine, together with raised export of copper scrap and wastes to Belarus, and medical devices and instruments to Poland. There was no change in exports to Russia and a slight decrease in exports to Azerbaijan (due to decreased export of cigarettes). The improvement in trade statistics was mainly due to better economic conditions in the entire region. Furthermore, remittances increased by 14.2% yearly, raising people’s disposable income, consumption, and real GDP growth. The main contributors to this increase were Kyrgyzstan (215.9% yearly, contributing 2.2 percentage points to total growth), the European Union (16.4% yearly), including Italy (19.3% yearly), Greece (14.8% yearly) and Germany (27.4% yearly). Russia and EU countries accounted for 63% of total money inflows. In addition, the number of international visitors increased by 16.3% yearly, while the increase in tourist numbers (visitors who spent 24 hours or more in Georgia) amounted to 15.5%. In summary, increased money inflow and the dramatically higher number of visitors and tourists in the corresponding month made a significant positive contribution to the growth forecast.

INCREASED NUMBER OF DEPOSITS The other set of variables with a significant positive effect on our forecast relate to national and foreign currency deposits in commercial banks. In December, all national currency deposits (except short-term time deposits [less than 3 months]) experienced significant growth in annual terms. In particular, national currency demand deposits saw an annual increase of 6.6%. Additionally, national currency time deposits increased by 7.0% annually. The only variable that experienced a notable yearly decline was time deposits of less

Source: GeoStat

than 3 months (by 18.3% yearly). Consequently, national currency total deposits increased by 11.1% yearly. Foreign currency total deposits increased by 15.8% compared to the same month of the previous year. Furthermore, foreign currency demand and time deposits increased by 13.0% and 14.6% yearly, respectively. Deposit dollarization increased to 64.1%, compared to 63.6% in the same period the previous year (and 63.9% the previous month). According to our model, these trends in national and foreign deposits have had a significant positive contribution to real GDP growth.

MONTHLY APPRECIATED REAL EFFECTIVE EXCHANGE RATE In December, the Georgian lari appreciated monthly in real terms against all main trading partners’ currencies. The most significant appreciations were observable with respect to the Turkish lira (3.7% monthly) and US dollar (2.6% monthly). In addition, the Real Effective Exchange Rate (REER) appreciated by 1.9% relative to the previous month, but depreciated by 5.3% relative to the same month in the previous year (this pattern was shared with the Nominal Effective Exchange Rate). Notably, during December of 2019, NBG did not sell or purchase foreign exchange reserves and increased the Monetary Policy Rate by 0.5 percentage points to 9%. Overall, REER-related variables had a small negative contribution to real GDP growth projections.

EXCESS INFLATION According to our model, the main negative contributor to growth was the increased consumer price level, compared to the same month of the previous year. In December, annual inflation of consumer prices amounted to 7%, which is notably higher than the targeted 3%. About 0.9 percentage points of CPI inflation were due to higher tobacco prices, driven by the one-time increase in excise tax, while food prices contributed 3.5 percentage points with 12.8% annual growth. The measure of core inflation amounted to a relatively moderate 3.7%. The National Bank’s contractionary monetary policy (increased Monetary Policy Rate, reduced reserve requirements in dollars, etc.) is expected to bring annual inflation to the target level by the second half of 2020. Our forecasting model identifies the high inflation rate as a main negative contributor to future GDP growth.

Our forecasting model is based on the Leading Economic Indicator (LEI) methodology developed by the New Economic School, Moscow, Russia. We constructed a dynamic model of the Georgian economy, which assumes that all economic variables, including GDP itself, are driven by a small number of factors that can be extracted from the data well before GDP growth estimates are published. For each quarter, ISET-PI produces five consecutive monthly forecasts (or “vintages”), which increase in precision as time goes on. Our first forecast (the 1st vintage) is available about five months before the end of the quarter in question. The last forecast (the 5th vintage) is published in the first month of the next quarter.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 3 - 5, 2020

5

TBC Bank Presents Annual Report to Business Sector T BC held its annual meeting, presenting the company's achievements and results for 2019, as well as its development strategy and future plans. The meeting was attended by representatives of the business sector, government, diplomatic corps, international financial institutions and business associations. The meeting was chaired by TBC Bank CEO Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, his deputies Giorgi Tkhelidze and Nikoloz Kurdiani, and Chief Economist of the bank, Otar Nadaraia. Speakers spoke about TBC's vision and strategy, achievements in corporate and investment banking, the development of small and medium-sized businesses, as well as the overall macroeconomic environment. Within the framework of a panel discussion, TBC representatives and business partners discussed macroeconomic trends and future development prospects. According to financial data for 2019, TBC is the leading bank in Georgia. As of 2018, the bank's loan portfolio grew by 22.1% to 39.5% of the market, while the deposit market share stood at 39.0%. This is mainly driven by the growth in corporate and micro, small and medium business segments. Lending to businesses in the corporate sector increased by 47% and MSMEs by 18%. The largest share of financing in the corporate sector comes from the energy, real estate, food industry and hotel sectors. The MSME sector is focused on agriculture, hotels and trade. TBC is a leader in the retail segment and serves 2.5 million customers. In 2019, the retail loan portfolio grew by

7.5% year-on-year, largely driven by the growth in mortgage lending. Currently, TBC's market share is 40% in retail

loans and 37.9% in retail deposits. The financial resources attracted by TBC from international financial insti-

tutions in 2019 climbed to GEL 1.5 billion ($531 million). 2019 was also a successful year for TBC

in terms of international expansion. TBC Bank has obtained a preliminary license for banking in Uzbekistan, which is a step forward in conducting banking operations in the country. TBC plans to obtain the final license and start banking operations in the summer of 2020. At the same time, TBC is actively developing its payments business. Payme, a leading payment company in Uzbekistan, already serves 1.8 million customers. Payme's profit rose 84% to $8.6 million. Another achievement by TBC is the preparation of TBC's Digital Bank SPACE for the international marketplace, which will soon be introduced to Germany. Over the past year, TBC Bank has won various awards from international financial publications. TBC Mobile Bank was named the best bank in the world and TBC Bank - the best bank in Georgia. “The advancement of any business contributes to the growth of the country's economy,” said TBC Bank CEO Vakhtang Butskhrikidze. “We are very proud of the fact that the number of our supported businesses is growing every year; this is evidenced by the financial results of 2019, which we achieved through the joint efforts of our team. In general, TBC’s mission is to make life easier for people. That is why we create all the products and services for businesses that suit their needs. The ambitious goals set for 2020 and the best customer service we have succeeded at creating makes me confident that TBC will achieve exceptional results this year”. The TBC Summit is held annually to support business representatives in sharing their findings with others.

Georgia to Get Javelin Missiles from US BY TEA MARIAMIDZE

T

he United States Department of Defense reports that a new contract has been signed with Raytheon/ Lockheed Martin Javelin Joint Venture on producing anti-tank Javelin missiles for Georgia and several other countries. The information reads that the US Department of Defense signed the $18,431,215 contract on February 28, according to which Javelin Joint Venture will perform the works in Tucson, Arizona, by June 25, 2020. In addition to Georgia, Australia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates will also get anti-tank Javelin missiles from the US. It is not the first time Georgia is to receive Javelins from the United States. On January 23, 2018, Georgia received Javelin anti-tank systems from the United States which cost Georgia $75 million at the time. The first time, the US State Department approved Georgia for the purchase of 410 Javelin missiles and 72 launch units in November 2017. It said that the Javelin system would “provide Georgia with increased capacity to meet its national defense requirements.” The US state Department also noted then that the systems would boost Georgia’s antiarmor capabilities, allowing it to better defend against enemy tanks and armored vehicles.

Though the sale was small, it demonstrated deepening ties between the US and Georgia, a nation that has sought NATO membership for years. Georgia moved quickly to begin procurement after the approval of the sale. Deliveries were already being reported by early 2018 and some systems were on display in May of that year, confirming that a contract was in force. Russia immediately emphasized that Georgia’s deepening of military cooperation with NATO countries, especially with the United States, was “dangerous.” “Russia believes this outside military support is directly encouraging Tbilisi to new dangerous adventures in the region,” Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed.

WHAT IS A JAVELIN ANTI-TANK MISSILE? Javelin, also known as FGM-148, is an American man-portable “fire-and-forget” anti-tank missile fielded to replace the M47 Dragon anti-tank missile in US service. It uses automatic infrared guidance that allows the user to seek cover immediately after launch, as opposed to wireguided systems, like the Dragon, which require the user to actively guide the weapon throughout the engagement. The Javelin's high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead is capable of defeating modern tanks by attacking them from above where their armor is thinnest and is also useful against fortifications in a direct attack flight. One of the main advantages of the Javelin system is its portability. It is easy to separate into main components and easy to set up when needed. Also, the

Image source: globalresearch.ca

Javelin is lighter than the other missiles and their necessary parts and has range of up to 4,750 meters and in most cases it scores the target 100%. Another advantage is the Javelin's power at impact. The missile's tandem shaped charge warhead is made to penetrate reactive armor. With the top attack mode, it has an even greater ability to destroy the tank because it can attack where most tanks are weakest. The soft launch capability of the Javelin allows it to have only a minimal back-

blast area. In addition to reducing the visible launch signature from the enemy, this enables the Javelin to be fired from inside structures with minimal preparation. When listing disadvantages, the first thing that comes up is the total weight of the missile, at 22.3 kilograms. The system is designed to be carried by infantry on foot and weighs more than originally specified by the US Army requirement. Another disadvantage is the reliance

on a thermal view to acquire targets. The thermal views are not able to operate until the refrigeration component has cooled the system. The manufacturer estimates 30 seconds until this is complete, but depending on the ambient temperature, this process may take much longer. Moreover, Javelin launchers and missiles are expensive. As of 2018, the unit cost for a Javelin weapon system was at $206,705, while each missile costs around $83,000.


6

BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

MARCH 3 - 5, 2020

Ambassador of Turkey to Georgia on World Order & Turkey-Georgia Relations INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

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he Georgian Institute for Security Policy (GISP) sat down with the Ambassador of Turkey to Georgia, Her Excellency Fatma Ceren Yazgan, to discuss the dynamics of the relationship between the two countries. First, we asked for her assessment on the latest events that took place in Idlib. “At this point, I can only tell you certain facts: On the night of 27 February, a Turkish military convoy deployed to reinforce a Turkish observation post, as well as some fortifications, were deliberately targeted in the vicinity of the Balyun village of the Jabal Zawiyah region, south of the Idlib de-escalation area. We lost 33 soldiers as a result of a series of airstrikes. Our losses since early February have reached 45. We have not identified the nationality of the aircrafts which struck our convoy and bases. The radar tracks demonstrate that the regime and Russian aircrafts were in formation flight. “Turkey is committed to the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria. Turkey will do its utmost to contribute to restoring Syria’s territorial integrity and political unity once the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process establishes a credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance.” We next asked the Ambassador about the speech that her Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Cavusoglu, delivered at the Davos Forum. It is no news that Turkey has been a strong proponent of Georgia becoming a NATO member, nevertheless the added twist was pointing the finger at the reluctance of Western allies to, so to say, accept Georgia into the flock, out of fear of “not provoking Russia”. He said – “I do not know why are we not inviting Georgia as a member of the Alliance”. We asked if she had the answer to that question, or could suggest why it has not happened yet. “I think you should ask that question in Brussels,” the Ambassador told us. “Because ‘it is not happening’ in Brussels. My being here and me being closer to Georgian developments as an observer, does not necessarily make me more knowledgeable about why Georgia has not yet been invited as a full member. Let us look at the bigger picture. In this era of international relations, where things previously unforeseeable and unthinkable are happening all the time, the way the states manage their own interests and their allies’ interests, has become quite unpredictable. We have a crisis in Iraq, we have a huge crisis in Syria, we have a crisis in Ukraine, where

Iage source: hurriyet.com.tr

Crimea has been illegally annexed, and the Black Sea region has not become a more secure space either. The world that we thought we were going to have in the 1990s is simply not here. Far from it: we have less stability, less security and we have less predictability. And all this is a source of concern for Turkey. As for Georgia, it is a neighbor that we have very stable and predictable relations with, and I must underline that among all its neighbors, Turkey is the only country with which Georgia has a clearly demarked and recognized border, and the society of Georgia, its government and opposition, all agree in favor of NATO membership. Plus, Georgia has contributed to NATO. We can discuss whether Georgia’s capabilities can be enhanced, whether there are any deficiencies in terms of security that need to be improved, but there is no denying Georgia’s contribution and its determination as to where it wants to be. That’s why we argue that Georgia needs to be given a clear MAP and that is what Minister Cavusoglu yet again reiterated at Davos. And it was also our response against baseless allegations that we are not ‘dependable allies’ for the so-called West, made in the context of our relations with Russia.” We asked her to elaborate on the nature of this relationship, noting Georgia’s sense of alarm that while relations between Turkey and the US seem more

complicated than before, a better relationship and understanding between Moscow and Ankara might spell trouble for us. “First off, about the US and Turkey relationship: while it might seem under stress presently, it has nothing to do with Georgia and we intend to keep it that way. Georgia is not a part of that equation. Whatever our differences might be, on Georgia, both the US and Turkey have a very stable, static convergence of interests: we both want to see a stable, secure and prosperous Georgia. Both Washington and Ankara strongly support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. So if the concern is that Turkish and American, or even Turkish and Russian relations might impact Georgia, let me ask: why should it? For its entire existence, which spans more than two thousand years, Georgia has been able to balance and navigate between the different powerful actors in the region. Whenever finding this balance was no longer a possibility, problems would start for the Georgian state. This need to balance has not changed, it’s still here: we today have a multipolar, inconsistent world order.” We asked: And in that world of evershifting alliances and allegiances, does Georgia have to worry that the TurkishRussian relationship might have some influence on Turkey’s continual support

towards Georgia? “Of course not. This is exactly what my minister said: we are working with Russia, as any country does. Not more, not less. When other NATO allies work on a relationship with Russia, it doesn’t seem to be a problem. So why are we singled out? A weak, isolated Turkey, that is considered unreliable, whose interest is that in? Certainly not in Georgia’s interests. Turkish behavioral patterns, unlike many of our Western allies, are very easy to read. For us, our land is sacred. We won’t leave an inch of our land unprotected, that is unthinkable. Territorial integrity for us is a sacred concept. And we pursue our interests through diplomacy. We won’t instigate anything, we only answer if we are provoked. And I think it’s the same approach for Georgia. Georgia should not feel alone in this. And I think that was very well conveyed in the Minister’s speech. Do not think that nobody will help you: if Georgia needs it, there will be an alliance, there will be partners, there will be neighbors who will come to your aid. But diplomacy comes first and that is why with Russia we will always try to have dialogue. We need to persuade our Russian friends that, in the long run, it is beneficial for all of us to have stability here, instead of conflicts.” We enquired as to whether the Ambassador thought that the visions of Russia and Turkey, when it comes to stability

in this region, matched each other? “Our job, through diplomacy, is to make sure that they proximate. We cannot achieve full proximity of interests between different nations, it’s near impossible, but the mastery of diplomacy lies in finding some sort of mutual vision. The ultimate goal of diplomacy in international relations is to avoid conflicts and find common denominators, and that is what we are striving to do. But we are principled in our position. For example, we do not discuss the issue of Georgia’s territorial integrity with Russia because our visions are so conflicting on that issue. We have a very clear-cut vision on Georgia’s territorial integrity and that is not going to change, it is not a subject of discussion or compromise.” Does saying Georgia should be a member of NATO not at least indirectly affect Russian-Turkish relations? we wonder. With the Turkish Minister pointing at Western allies, saying they’re concerned about “provoking Russia” with potential membership for Georgia, why, we ask, is Turkey is not concerned about the same thing? “Because we do not believe that is a factor in that decision,” the Abassador answers. “Provoking what? NATO membership, per se, has never been designed to threaten a third party. Basically, what we’re saying is that we are not a country that is blocking or preventing Georgia from becoming a NATO member, quite the contrary. Our position is that this decision is not related to our relationship with Russia in other areas. The same goes for the Crimea issue.” We next ask her what the impact was of the Minister’s statement. As welcome as such a vocal expression of support is, what practical progress can be expected from it? “I think the impact should be a discussion in Georgia. I will not give you a very diplomatic answer about this. A diplomatic answer should have been something like this: Oh, we will discuss it further in Brussels. I think we owe it to Georgia, as a good neighbor, to say it in a plainer and more honest way: There should be a discussion in Georgia regarding what to actually expect from NATO. People have to understand that entering NATO should not be a goal by itself: the goal for Georgia should be providing and acquiring more security.”


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EU4Youth: Georgian Youth Club Promotes Personal Growth BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

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n Kutaisi, Georgia, the EU-funded youth club (SKYE) members have created a special space for peers, where, through a creative process, personal growth is stimulated. The youth of Kutaisi there can use their creativity and make art to explore their emotions and perceptions. The further development of their identities is the main goal of the European Union funded programs, since they believe that “investing in young people is investing in the future.” The club for art lovers and self-explorers was established in the framework of the ‘PD Art Therapy’ project, run by Kutaisi SKYE club youth. Basing their practices on German experience, the project gives 16 young people living in Kutaisi a chance to learn new techniques of practical art and through it, define and develop their own interests, desires and priorities, thus learning more about themselves. Each week, two hour-long sessions are organized. The EU website reports that participants during these sessions “study different art therapy techniques, including paint on water, paint on sand, paint on glass, paint on canvas, creating bookmarks from polymer clay, moulding paraffin wax, creating laminate bookmarks, calligraphy and woollen work.” By the time the project wraps up, participants will have more knowledge of their own priorities, interests, desires, and ultimately themselves. The development of youth can multiply the ways Georgia as a country can be developed.

So, to keep going forward, youth club members plan to present the project to the local City Hall in order to ensure its continuation. Implemented by World Vision, the SKYE clubs have been set up within the scope of the EU4Youth – SAY YES Skills for Jobs project. World Vision International is a humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization. Although it is an Evangelical Christian organization, it presents itself as inter-

denominational and also employs staff from non-evangelical Christian denominations. EU4Youth was launched in 2017 in Eastern Partnership countries of the EU (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine), with a budget of €22.75 million, EU Investment being €20 million. The SAY YES Skills for Jobs project has a three-year duration between 20182021, and a program budget of €1.53 mil-

lion. The program aims to contribute to the (self-)employability of young women and men aged between the ages of 15 and 35 in Armenia and Georgia, particularly those with fewer opportunities and from the vulnerable groups. Within the framework of the project, a series of activities focused on education and training, advocacy and youth work are carried out, including event-based exchanges of practices and awareness-raising campaigns. Other four actions in brief ensure

the practices of research, good practice reviews and target group mapping, multistakeholder development of advocacy for gender, capacity development programs for public institutions, and formal and non-formal educational programs. In Georgia and Armenia, the project is implemented by World Vision Deutschland VE (DE) in partnership with the “Global Development” Fund (AM), Association "Anika" (GE) and the Georgian Farmers' Association.

‘Bricks Hotel’ - A Brand New Hotel in the Heart of Tbilisi ADVERTORIAL

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fter a year of waiting, Tbilisi is getting set to welcome an exciting newcomer onto the Old Tbilisi hotel scene. ‘Bricks Hotel,’ a 36-room hotel located in the very heart of the city, is now accepting reservations. Bricks Hotel is housed within a modern four-storey building on Wine Rise Street, in one of the most exciting areas of Tbilisi, where you can find the historical monuments included on the List of Cultural Heritage, as well as the main sights of Tbilisi and the old part of the city, surrounded by beautiful Georgian houses. Bricks Hotel is the ideal starting point for walking to attractions such as the Metekhi Church, the Bridge of Peace, the Narikala Fortress, the Sameba Cathe-

dral, the Armenian Church, and the Sioni Cathedral. The hotel is also conveniently located just 100 meters from Avlabari Metro Station, which helps tourists to discover both the old and new parts of the city within minutes. In front of the hotel, you can find the ruins of the Avlabari wall built in the 18th century. The remnants of these historic walls give the hotel a truly unique look. Bricks Hotel offers various category rooms, including Standard Double Rooms, Triple Rooms and Deluxe Rooms with terraces. Most of the hotel’s rooms offer stunning views, some of which have exceptional terraces that will give its fortunate guests a stunning vantage point from which to view the soul of the city. Each room is equipped with outstanding amenities, thus offering the highest standards of comfort. “Bricks Hotel offers high quality, affordable prices and the best customer service,

which we believe will make our guests' tripunforgettable,”saidIrakliMotsonelidze, Operations Manager of Bricks Hotels. For meetings and conferences, the hotel offers a refined and flexible meeting space which is ideal for workshops, training, and presentations, promising clients an environment that encourages the process of creative thought.

Bricks Hotel also offers city tours, airport shuttle, buffet breakfast, and free wireless internet - providing guests with the superior comfort and utmost value they want out of their stay. A strong commitment to providing creative, healthy and quality food and drink is another one of the hallmarks of Bricks Hotel. The hotel features a roof-

top terrace, which offers a luxurious 360° panorama view across the old city, as well as Bricks Restaurant, which serves both local and European cuisine. At this pet-friendly hotel, guests will appreciate the warm hospitality and exceptional value. So, if you are planning to visit Tbilisi, Bricks Hotel awaits!


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Turkey’s Evolving Approach to its Neighborhood: The Case of Georgia & Ukraine OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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any regard Turkey’s involvement in Syria as a reflection of the country’s ambitious foreign policy to reinstate parts of the Ottoman Empire, whose existence ended following World War I. However, rather than connecting Turkey’s current foreign policy to its Ottoman past, for those living in the region bordering on Turkey, it is the country’s geography that is perhaps the most powerful driver behind Ankara’s geopolitical moves in the last decade. The country borders on five geographic regions with varying geopolitical importance: the Black Sea, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, the South Caucasus, and Syria-Iraq. What these regions have in common is crises of alternating magnitude that directly impact Turkey’s borders. This simple geography conditions Ankara’s active foreign policy. Quite naturally, Ankara has been responsive to various crises along its borders. Simple geopolitical theory dictates that to secure its interests in the five regions, Turkey needs to be active/responsive to various troubles along its borders. Among the above-given five theaters, the Syrian conundrum is one example where troubles have a spillover effect on internal Turkey, the scenario Ankara has strived to avoid since 2011 (the outbreak of the Syrian civil war) through limited/medium military operations in northern Syria. This puts Ankara in direct competition with Russia as the latter pursues its strategic goals of securing the sovereignty of Syria under the cur-

rent President, Bashar al-Assad. Another region which worries Turkey (but for the moment is overshadowed by the Syrian problem) is the worsened security situation in the Black Sea region. Though Turkey and Russia cooperate on many fronts, they nevertheless remain geopolitical rivals with competing interests in several strategically vital regions across the Eurasian landmass. Turkey’s geographic position gives it the longest shore on the Black Sea and natural control over the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, making the country capable of projecting its military and economic power across the entire Black Sea. The area has historically been a battle ground between the Russian and Ottoman empire since the 18th century, followed by the Cold War military dispositions. The annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea by Russia in 2014 as well as Ankara’s and Moscow’s natural interests in extending its zone of influence in the Black Sea, leaves little room for the two countries to find a foundational compromise in the longer run. These fundamental developments to the south and north of Turkey will have a lasting impact on Turkey’s strategic vision of its neighborhood, where Russia’s military presence presses on Ankara’s thinking. To solve it, it is in Turkey’s interest to have a strong Ukraine which could serve as a certain limit on Russia’s ambitions in the Black Sea area. Turkish President President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s February visit to Ukraine underscored this Turkish thinking when pledges to support the Ukrainian military were floated. To the east of the Black Sea, in the South Caucasus too, Turkey faces Russia. Both share somewhat different views on the region. Ever since the collapse of

Image source: britannica.com

the Soviet Union, Turkey has actively worked on reconnecting the South Caucasus region to its growing energy consumption market by initiating/facilitating various east-west energy and infrastructure projects. The TANAP, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, as well as the growing trilateral cooperation model with Georgia and Azerbaijan serves as yet another tool for Ankara to secure/

strengthen its vital geopolitical interests. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called for Georgia’s accession into NATO during the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland. With the increasingly volatile Middle East in the past decade, Turkey will continue playing a crucial role in the region’s geopolitics. Its major challenge, in the long run, will remain Russia as it increases its

influence to the south and north of Turkey. It is clear that Turkey and Russia will be striving to avoid confronting each other militarily. But to limit a predominant Russia, Turkey using its vital position as a NATO member will offer several options, among them propping up its role in Northern Syria, Ukraine and Georgia through stronger economic and potentially military cooperation.

GDP Ingredients – Drivers of Growth OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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hat is politics? Somebody might hurry to give me a classic triviality of an answer, that politics is the art of the possible, or, more facetiously, the art of looking for trouble. My favorite answer is that politics is the human desire and attempt of a politician to force the electorate into liking him or her. Conversely, the economy could be given a friendlier definition: it is a chance to be happy, sated, clad and well groomed. Only that chance is both slippery and elusive: one needs to grab it real hard and hold on until it yields into something tangible so that the grabber feels that survival has taken place. In Georgia, most politicians are unlikable, but doers of economy are in favor; politicians get on people’s nerves, but economically-minded folks emanate hope of welfare; politicians use words to make a difference, whereas economists utilize specific resources to improve our lifestyle. And still, both politics and economy want to go hand in hand to come to each other’s rescue, and together, help us live better. In this felicitous interaction, economy is certainly a key factor, although politics wants to be a leader, especially in a country like Georgia, scrambling over rough and steep politeconomical terrain in the

Image source: shortpedia.com

last 30 years, not even having been able to obtain an optimal system for electing the right people at the right time to manage the country, both politically and economically. I tend to believe that our economists have always known well that the economy is pulled forward by the strong oxen of consumer, business, government and exports, yet Georgian politicians seem oblivious of those inevitable components of material progress. If we want to follow how the economy behaves in this country, we need to be watching care-

fully the patterns of performance of these types of spending. The velocity of economics in general totally depends on the health of these four bullocks. Based on expert opinion, what the customers of various segments of economy, taken together, purchase throughout the year might constitute two-thirds of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a definite period of time, labeled the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Consumer spending, for its part, depends on the size of the family income as well as its

overall wealth. Here is the logic of ‘living better’ in Georgia: if our buyer doesn’t spend money on goods and services, the economy will shrink, the shrinkage will curb the growth of wages and jobs, and if salaries are down and the volume of work in the job market withers, the consumer’s purchasing power will either stagnate or be nullified. Thus, serious consumer spending, if possible at all, must start somewhere at some point in Georgia and it has to be maintained for as long as the current economic status allows so that the regular market cycle

is not destroyed, and wealth starts to be generated. One might say that spending is out of the question if there is nothing to spend. Fair enough, but if we don’t spend the maximum of what we have, the extant market will never generate the potential of growth. There is also an interesting notion of ‘spending confidence’, the lack of which may have a huge negative effect on economic progress: an unconfident shopper is cancerous to the marketplace. The second most important element of GDP is business investment, which is not the most flourishing and easily executed economic move in Georgia. Business equipment typically comprises three segments: equipment, building and contents of the building, called inventory. The next component is government spending. The administrative purchases needed for managing the regime also constitute a very solid part of Gross Domestic Product, but not the pension and social security funds which may have an effect on GDP only if their beneficiaries want to spend their retirement financial facilities. The final constituent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product is the export of products, which is what foreign consumers spend on products manufactured internally, and then send out of the country to fill the external markets. I understand that this is just the ABC of economics but reminding ourselves of those rudimentary rules can’t hurt, especially in the wake of signing the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia.


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Georgia to Export New Armored Vehicle Didgori Warrior HAIRLINE INTERNATIONAL - LEADER IN HAIR TRANSPLANTATION SINCE 2005 MEDICAL CENTER ‘HAIRLINE INTERNATIONAL’ USES THE NEWEST METHODS AND TECHNOLOGIES OF HAIR TRANSPLANTATION BY ANA DUMBADZE

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new Georgian armored vehicle Didgori Meomari ('Warrior'), equipped with a 120mm mobile mortar module, will be exported under the agreement signed between the Military ScientificTechnical Center Delta and a country in the Middle East, the Ministry of Defense said.

The Didgori Meomari armored vehicle was first demonstrated in May 2018. “The first public presentation of the 'Didgori Warrior' prototype, built by the State Military Scientific-Technical Center Delta, was held at the IDEX 2019. The purpose of the 'Warrior', equipped with a 120 mm caliber mortar, is the fire support for brigade-sized or battalion-sized units. The vehicle can be used for fire support of mechanized units in maneuvering operations,” explains the Ministry of Defense of Georgia.

Georgia to Present National Stand at Three Int'l Book Fairs

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eorgia will present its national stand and introduce its literature with the slogan ‘Follow the Journey of Georgian Characters’ at three international books fairs: London (March 10-12), Leipzig (March 12-15) and Paris (March 20-23). It will be the first time for Georgia to present its national stand at the Paris Book Fair. The 40th edition of the Paris Salon du Livre is an annual event bringing dozens of renowned authors and thousands of visitors under a single roof to celebrate literature and literary trends. About 3,000 authors and publishers meet readers each year and present new books. Participating in Paris Salon du Livre is the best opportunity to promote Georgian literature in Francophone countries. It will also help build relations between Georgian and Francophone publishing houses. As part of the diverse literary program, events will take place both at the special thematic scenes of the Paris Salon du Livre and in other literary spaces citywide. Georgian publishers will have the opportunity to hold meetings at national stands and present their books to foreign publishers. A conference will be held at the National Uni-

versity of Oriental Languages and Cultures of Paris (INALCO), whereby the representatives of Georgian and French literary and academic institutions will discuss various topics together with the Georgian writers Besik Kharanauli, Levan Berdzenishvili and Lasha Bughadze. The activities planned within the framework of the project "Tbilisi Book Capital in 2021" will be announced at the conference. The event is supported by Tbilisi City Hall and UNESCO. On March 10-12, Georgian literature will be showcased for the eighth time at the London Book Fair, whereby Georgian publishers will hold business meetings with foreign counterparts. Book enthusiasts in London can get an impression of some of the latest Georgian literature. On March 12-15, Georgia will present its national stand for the ninth time at the Leipziger Book Fair - Leipziger Buchmesse. Georgian writers and illustrators (Ana Kordzaia-Samadashvili, David Machavariani (Kakadu), Lia Sturua, Salome Benidze, Dina Oganova and Teona Dolenjashvili) will hold meetings at various literary and cultural institutions in Leipzig.

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Located in one of the oldest and most picturesque districts of Tbilisi, Mtatsminda and distinguished for its fairytale architecture, restaurant Funicular opened its doors to guests for the first time eight decades ago in 1938 and since then has hosted several honorable guests, from Margaret Thatcher to Indira Gandhi and Fidel Castro. If you are looking for authentic experience of Tbilisi, served with mouth-watering gourmet food and a memorable evening in an atmosphere that lets you travel back in time and experience best of what the city could offer, then Restaurant Funicular is a definite must visit place during your visit to Georgia. +995 032 2 98 00 00 +995 577 74 44 00 info@funicular.ge


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OECD: Coronavirus Escalation Could Cut Global Economic Growth by 50%

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n 2020, Global GDP growth could plummet to as little as 1.5%, almost half the 2.9% rate predicted before the coronavirus outbreak, plunging countries into recession, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has warned. "Against a backdrop of already weak GDP growth, the economies of Japan and the eurozone could slide into recession this year," it said. The OECD, based in Paris and representing the planet’s 36 most advanced economies, has urged governments around the globe to take greater steps to work together, calling for an international response as Covid-19 spreads. "Its base-case scenario is for a short-lived but severe downturn, with the focal point for the economic damage in China," The Guardian reports. "It forecast that global growth would slide to 2.4% for 2020 as a whole, down from an already weak 2.9% last year. Even under its central forecast, the OECD warned that global growth could shrink in the first quarter. Chinese growth is expected to fall below 5% this year, down from 6.1% last year – which was already the weakest growth rate in the world’s second largest economy in almost 30 years." Yet the organization noted coronavirus and the

resulting panic could also cause a “domino effect,” with global growth being seriously damaged this year by the virus spreading throughout advanced economies across the northern hemisphere. This, plus growth slowing by about 1.4% over the course of 2020 to as little as 1.5%, could lead to financial markets around the world crashing by about 20%. Since coronavirus first reared its head in Wuhan, China, close to 85,000 people have been infected globally, with around that recovering and around 3,000 reported dead so far. Italy is the hardest hit in Europe to date, a blow that comes as its economy, the eurozone’s third largest, has already been suffering. Stock markets around the world fell last week by more than 10% in the worst week since the global financial crisis. The OECD warned that while central banks stepping in with additional support, by cutting interest rates, for example, could help to restore confidence and aid the recovery from the outbreak, this will not offset the immediate disruptions that result from enforced shutdowns and travel restrictions. Demanding world leaders act quickly, the group called for greater support for healthcare systems and workers, and for nations to protect the incomes of their most vulnerable social groups and businesses.

Georgia Harnessing Reforms to Boost Maritime Sector

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he maritime sector, often acknowledged as the life blood of global economy, is of crucial importance to modern societies. Nevertheless, the general public has a limited perception and appreciation of its influence and role as an essential element in terms of social and economic development, and as one of the best sources of highsalary employment. Creating a sustainable environment for the maritime industry is an important enabler for fostering trade, economic growth and general prosperity in Georgia. “The European Union has allocated €300,000 for the creation of a five- and ten-year maritime development plan, which is being produced by the Georgian Maritime Transport Agency, and which aims to revitalize the sector,” reads an article by Joseph Hassmann printed in Investor.ge, an analytical business magazine. Georgia is now beginning to see its maritime sector as the backbone of international trade and global markets for economic growth, something which promises huge possibilities for the country. “Rebuilding fleets, promoting the interest of shipowners to sail under the Georgian flag, attracting companies working in the maritime sector to set up camp in the country, expanding tourism and exploiting the Free Industrial Zones bordering the countries ports – the possibilities along its 310 kilometers of Black

Sea coastline are vast,” Hassmann tells Investor.ge readers. The Black Sea, strategically located between Europe, Asia and the Middle East, can be seen as a vital connecting hub. With due effort, Georgia can soon become one of the key players in the region. There are concrete initiatives that Georgia can take to further facilitate sustainable development of the maritime industry and with it, benefit the Georgian economy as a whole. The article highlights Georgia’s opportunities to make its maritime sector more attractive to leading maritime companies and promote the seafaring industry as a whole “by the provision of tax benefits and exemptions to shipowners and operators, the implementation of a tonnage tax, plans to handle port congestion and the promotion of maritime finance models for local banks, amongst others”. Georgia has also seen progress in providing access to maritime education and training in order to supply the best qualified seafarers. “The reach and availability of education for seafarers is also expanding, with the Georgian government spending 6 million GEL ($2 million) on extending the Batumi State Maritime Academy into Poti by opening a new branch in the former building of the HydroMelioration School – a building included in the country’s list of historical heritage sites of the 20th century,” reads the article.


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Hotel Four Points by Sheraton to Open in Bakuriani in 2022 HCI expands internationally and moves its headquarters to Luxembourg to meet the growing demand for projects in other European countries, while serving its existing portfolio.

ABOUT SIMETRIA Real estate development company Simetria is a member of Capitol Investment Group. Simetria has been operating on the Georgian real estate market since 2011. Currently, its activities cover a wide range of real estate development, including residential complexes, hotels, businesses, and shopping centers. The company offers a complete range of services that imply the creation and implementation of the project concept and presenting it to customers. Many years of experience and constantly renewable knowledge enables the company to establish a different niche on the market and present original and interesting offers to the customers. Simetria enjoys the reputation of a credible partner that is based on stability, development, and meeting the expectations.

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t the end of 2019, Marriott International and Georgian private companies signed an agreement to open Four Points by Sheraton Bakuriani in 2022. The project investor is Capitol Investment Group, and the hotel developer will be the group’s subsidiary company, Simetria. The hotel is being managed by Hotel Collection International, which is also a member of Capitol Investment Group. Located in Bakuriani, 185 kilometers from Tbilisi city center and the city’s international airport, the hotel features 121 stylish rooms, a lobby bar, and a restaurant serving Georgian delicacies. The hotel is perfect for those traveling for pleasure, providing a possibility to enjoy both the wellness center and spa, and indoor swimming pool. The Four Points by Sheraton Bakuriani hotel is the perfect gateway to explore Bakuriani’s popular nearby attractions, as well as the captivating sights of the area, including the BorjomiKharagauli National Park surrounding the hotel. Those traveling for business can take advantage of the hotel’s versatile meeting rooms accommodating up to 150 conference guests, and parking facilities. “We are pleased to open the first Four Points by Sheraton for the people of Georgia,” George Jakhutashvili, CEO of Capitol Investment Group states. “It has been a dream project for all of us at Capitol Investment Group right from the moment we signed the deal with Marriott International. With a rich culture, historic cities and many unique locations, Georgia is one of the most growing destinations in recent years, with over 9,357,964 international visitors in 2019 alone. Working with one of the world’s biggest hotel franchising companies will enable us to further cement our position on the market and attract more international guests. Hotel Collection International has a strong reputation for high standards in hotel management and is the perfect partner in Georgia. Also, the success of the member of our group, Simetria, is based on effective management of investments and implementation of developing projects within the prescribed timeframe and with high quality. This project emphasizes our strong commitment to our team’s mission : ‘Promote The Growth Of Investments In Georgia,’ which in other words means the main pillar for growing Georgian economy by creating jobs and the well-being for

Georgian people.” “We are delighted to open the first Four Points by Sheraton in Georgia,” Sebastian Lodder, CEO of Hotel Collection International added. “Designed for the smart, independent traveler, Four Points by Sheraton Bakuriani offers the timeless style and comfort business and leisure guests are looking for in the heart of the town. Georgia is an important market for us, and we continue to look for opportunities to expand our portfolio and support the country’s robust plans to develop the tourism and travel sector.”

ABOUT CAPITOL INVESTMENT GROUP Capitol Investment Group brings together specially selected professionals into a unified team for effective management of different business activities. The company helps investors reduce the risks associated with business activities in Georgia through fundamental research into the country’s business environment, significant local relations, and a wealth of experience in different sectors. Capitol Investment Group manages projects implemented by various international private investors, however the majority are from Kazakhstan. The investment portfolio includes tourism, real estate development, construction, agriculture, and manufacturing. The total investment value as of December 2019 exceeds 150 million USD. By co-operating with the group, investors team up with a company that is ready to turn its experience into another successful project. It is a reliable partner for successful implementation of attractive projects.

ABOUT HOTEL COLLECTION INTERNATIONAL Hotel Collection International (HCI) is a pioneer in multi-brand hotel management in Spain and Georgia. HCI is a leader collaborating with leading hotel brands such as Hilton, Marriott, IHG, Wyndham and Best Western through franchise agreements. The company functions on values and a unique philosophy that reflects in all hotels, based on integrity, respect, trust, and excellence. In addition, HCI strives to make a difference in the communities it works in, seeking simplicity and always providing exceptional service to both its guests and its own team. A group of experts in hospitality with a maximum per flag: always offer excellence in management and maximize the return on investments. In this new phase,

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1232 Business  

March 3 - 5, 2020

Issue #1232 Business  

March 3 - 5, 2020

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