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Issue no: 1090/150

• OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2018

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

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

Real Property Sales ISET PAGE 4

Sixth DCFTA Advisory Group Meeting

FOCUS ON TAXI ECONOMICS Eric Livny encourages us to reconsider what we think of Tbilisi's taxi drivers

BUSINESS PAGE 7

PAGE 8

Batiashvili Introduces New, Reform-Oriented Team

PM: We Want to Efficiently Integrate New Mining Chip Unveiled into the Global Market BUSINESS PAGE 8

BY THEA MORRISON

G

eorgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze noted that Georgia is not a big market but that it is visibly trying to be efficiently integrated into the global economy. In his interview with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Frontier, Bakhtadze discussed the Georgian government’s plans to transform a country with just 3.7 million citizens into a regional hub for finance, business, logistics, tourism and education. Georgia is already ranked among the top 10 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking; however, according to the PM, the government is going to reduce taxes even more. “We’re looking to abolish not only corporate tax for international com-

BUSINESS PAGE 10

Beefing Up Security BUSINESS PAGE 11 Photo source: PM’s Press Office

Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

panies operating in Georgia but also personal income tax for the people who work for them,” he said. According to Bakhtadze, Georgia is the only country in the region that has free trade agreements with both China and the EU. “We are committed to a lean government: we just reduced the number of ministries to 10, and we are trying to digitalize all our services,” he added. One of the main challenges for the country is poverty, and Bakhtadze says the poverty rate is around 15% but he hopes to see it decreasing soon. “One of the main reforms we are conducting now is in the education sector. We want to increase the human capital index by 20% and to help do that, we want to increase education to represent 10% or 11% of the GDP. We would like to have closer ties between business and education,” he said. Continued on page 2

Markets Asof05ͲOctͲ2018

Price

w/w

BankofGeorgia(BGEOLN)

GBP17.34

+1,3%

+1,6%

GeorgiaCapital(CGEOLN)

STOCKS

GBP11.48

+2,9%

+10,5%

m/m

Price

w/w

m/m

GEOROG04/21

103.04(YTM5.45%)

Ͳ0,1%

+0,0%

GEORG04/21

BONDS

105.04(YTM4.72%)

Ͳ0,1%

Ͳ0,3%

GBP2.20

Ͳ

Ͳ3,9%

GRAIL07/22

106.16(YTM5.89%)

Ͳ0,4%

+0,1%

GBP16.80

Ͳ0,2%

+4,0%

GEBGG07/23

97.91(YTM6.51%)

Ͳ0,1%

Ͳ0,4%

COMMODITIES

Price

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CURRENCIES

Price

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m/m

CrudeOil,Brent(US$/bbl)

84,16

+1,7%

+8,9%

2,6213

+0,3%

+0,3%

1203,63

+1,1%

+0,6%

GEL/EUR

3,0180

Ͳ0,3%

Ͳ0,7%

GEL/GBP

3,4372

+1,0%

+1,9%

Price

w/w

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GEL/CHF

2,6348

Ͳ0,7%

Ͳ2,1%

GHG(GHGLN) TBCBankGroup(TBCGLN)

GoldSpot(US$/OZ)

INDICES

GEL/USD

7318,54

Ͳ2,6%

Ͳ0,9%

GEL/RUB

0,0393

Ͳ1,3%

+2,6%

FTSE250

19918,03

Ͳ1,9%

Ͳ2,3%

GEL/TRY

0,4272

Ͳ1,0%

+7,9%

DAX

12111,90

Ͳ1,1%

+0,6%

GEL/AZN

1,5444

+0,3%

+0,2%

DOWJONES

26447,05

Ͳ0,0%

+1,8%

GEL/AMD

0,0054

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7788,45

Ͳ3,2%

Ͳ2,6%

GEL/UAH

0,0929

+0,7%

+0,8%

159,72

Ͳ2,8%

+5,6%

EUR/USD

0,8679

+0,7%

+0,9%

FTSE100

NASDAQ MSCIEMEE

Ͳ

1000,76

Ͳ4,5%

Ͳ2,1%

GBP/USD

0,7623

Ͳ0,7%

Ͳ1,6%

SP500

2885,57

Ͳ1,0%

Ͳ0,1%

CHF/USD

0,9920

+1,0%

+2,1%

MSCIFM

2544,04

Ͳ2,0%

Ͳ2,1%

RUB/USD

66,6043

+1,6%

Ͳ2,4%

GTIndex(GEL)

1582,68

Ͳ

Ͳ

TRY/USD

6,1330

+1,3%

Ͳ7,1%

GTIndex(USD)

1208,13

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Ͳ

AZN/USD

1,6962

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Ͳ0,2%

MSCIEM


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NEWS

@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: g.Vino founders will soon present their new Georgian fast food brand: Lukma, an experimental startup with an alternative approach to traditional Georgian food, making it easy to taste through smaller portions, all with natural Georgian ingredients. The idea is to offer customers a fast casual-food experience with an eyecatching design, packaging, and delivery created by famous Georgian HORECA business consultants from Gastronaut. Good Luck to Lukma! Can’t wait to taste it! Georgian bakery brand Brotmaister is expanding internationally, set to enter the Azerbaijani market with a baked goods factory and five branches in Azerbaijan’s capital city Baku by year-end. Brotmaister was established in 2015 and is now a leading bakery in Georgia, a 100% Georgian brand. The regional expansion was achieved with the support of Enterprise Georgia, the government’s office responsible for supporting and developing entrepreneurship in Georgia. Beard.ge is another Georgian brand expanding its business globally. After entering Dubai and Qatar, Beard.ge will now target the US market. This is the company’s third year operating in Georgia and it has managed to gain customer satisfaction with its natural beard-grooming products, including beard oils, balms, soaps, and shampoos – all made using organic ingredients, making men’s beards softer than usual. Why not give it a try yourself? 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

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2018

Heroes' Square Expansion May Reduce Traffic Jams BY SHAWN WAYNE

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he Laguna Vere road near Heroes' Square in Tbilisi can be expanded, said Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze. The territory near Heroes' Square is one of the most congested sections of road in Tbilisi. It is a traffic interchange between the central districts of Vake, Saburtalo and the railway station. Overpasses are built on the square, but this does not save it from traffic jams during rush hours. “We are working on it and considering how effective expanding the road near Laguna Vera will be. The project is possible and negotiations with all petrol stations in the location are almost complete,” said Kaladze. He noted that in order to make a final decision, Tbilisi City Hall is waiting for the completion of a study. The fight

against traffic jams in Tbilisi is one of the main tasks of the Mayor's Office. Particularly problematic times for traffic occur on weekdays in the morning and evening, when people spend hours trying to get to work or home by car or via

overground public transport. “We are now waiting for the results of the study on how effective the road’s capacity will be after expansion. We will make a decision after we get all the research in order,” stated Kaladze.

PM: We Want to Efficiently Integrate into the Global Market Continued from page 1 The PM also talked about the focus of the government in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI). “We are committed to diversifying our economy to attract more FDI. Last year it was a historical high of almost 12% of GDP, about $2 billion. We are more focused on FDI from high-tech compa-

nies, with a view to creating more highvalue-added products, because we want to provide a better environment for start-ups,” he underlined. As for the country’s stance on blockchain, Bakhtadze says Georgia was the first country to introduce blockchain technology into its public services in real-estate registration. “The results were extraordinary. We

cut operational costs by 30% and increased productivity. Now we are focused on digitalizing healthcare and education and will use blockchain in both,” he said, adding blockchain technology can significantly increase the level of services provided by government and by public organizations, and the Georgian government is trying to generalize it in all major fields.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2018

Real Property Sales

875 for ASP and USD 6.98 for ARP. In Q2 2018, ASP increased (YoY) in all TBS districts except Krtsanisi and Samgori. The highest increase was observed in Nadzaladevi and Didube, by 15.2% and 15.1%, respectively. ARP showed various patterns for various districts. The highest drop was in Mtatsminda, by-12.5% (YoY). Due to the new law requiring pricing of real estate in GEL, prices in local currency stabilized starting in Q3 2017, while prices in USD became more volatile, reflecting exchange rate fluctuations. In Q2 2018, the most expensive and cheapest districts of TBS were, by ASP: Mtatsminda (USD 1 124) and Samgori (USD 547); by ARP: Mtatsminda (USD 7.70) and Gldani (USD 4.62)

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY PRICES

During this quarter, Average Sale Price (ASP) varied between USD 868 and USD 881 per sq.m (monthly average), and Average Rent Price (ARP) was between USD 6.2 and USD 7.7 per sq.m (monthly average). Quarterly averages are USD

T

he Georgian (GEO) real property market grew by 10.1% in Q2 2018, in comparison with Q1 2018. The annual increase was more pronounced at 22.7% (YoY), in comparison with Q2 2017. Tbilisi (TBS), with a 44.0% share in total sales in Q2 2018, dominated the GEO real property market. The TBS market was followed by

Kakheti and Ajara, with a 10.2% share in GEO sales for both regions. The highest annual increase (YoY) in sales was observed in Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo-Svaneti (120.0%), Mtskheta-Mtianeti (57.6%), and Tbilisi (35.8%). In Q2 2018, TBS real property sales grew annually by 35.8%, and overall, the market outside TBS caught up and grew by 14.0%. More than half of GEO sales were registered in the two largest cities: Tbilisi and Batumi. For Q2 2018, the TOP 3 regions by sales in GEO were: TBS (13 331 units, 44.0%) Kakheti (3 081 units, 10.2%) Ajara (3 080 units, 10.2%) For Q2 2018, the TOP 3 districts by sales in TBS were: Saburtalo (3 527 units, 26.5%) Vake (2 279) units, 17.1%) Gldani (1 407 units, 10.6%)

Maintaining its upward trend, in Q2 2018, SPI increased by 2.5% (QoQ), reaching 0.890 index points. RPI increased as well, by 24.7% (QoQ) to 1.068 index points. During Q2 2018, ASP varied between USD 1,050 and 1,224 per sq.m, and ARP between USD 9.03 and USD 10.11 per sq.m. Average ASP for commercial properties increased by 8.0%(YoY), and reached 1,138 USD per sq.m. ARP declined by -7.3% (YoY) and dropped to 9.61 USD per sq.m in Q2 2018.

units with a total area of 53 K sq.m). 139 (-13.5%) units with a total area of 283 K sq.m (34.6%) have also been added to the residential property supply in TBS.

REAL PROPERTY SUPPLY 167 new buildings with a total area of 336,000 sq.m were completed in TBS during Q2 2018. The real property supply in TBS slowed down with respect to the number of buildings (-15.2% YoY), but grew for the total area of buildings (31.3% YoY). The slowdown in total supply has been driven by a -22,9 % decrease (YoY) in the supply of commercial buildings (28

RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY PRICES HLIGHTS In Q2 2018, Sale Price Index (SPI) and Rent Price Index (RPI) for residential properties experienced an increase of 0.1% quarterly (QoQ) and 5.6% (QoQ), respectively.

Georgian Chants at the Frankfurt Book Fair ADVERTORIAL

G

eorgia is to be presented with two unique collections of Georgian Chants in Frankfurt. The Georgian Folklore State Center, together with Tbilisi State Conservatoire and fund “Georgian Chant”, has prepared two collections of Georgian traditional chants: "Collection of Georgian Chants" and "You are the Vineyard." With these unique editions, Georgian professional music will be appropriately presented at one of the most prestigious international events of the year, the Frankfurt Book Fair. The Collection of Georgian Chants contains samples of medieval professional music devel-

oped in the Georgian Christian culture - polyphonic chants, composed by professional melodist-hymnographers and written with the old musical script, using neumes, the unified Georgian system. Georgian chants have for years captivated Georgian and foreign scientists due to their artistic value and polyphonic and harmonious thinking. They are performed not only during Liturgy, but on stage, in Georgia and abroad. "You are the Vineyard" was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and written by King Demetrius I Bagrationi. This work, full of the renaissance spirit, will introduce the most valuable pearls of Georgian music to the world. "Being a host country of the Frankfurt Book Fair is a matter of great importance for Georgia. Our country has the opportunity to fully present its cultural resources. The organizer

of the publications, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, provided for the publishing of our books outside the country at such a prestigious international publishing house that allows the books to be spread and available throughout the world. "Collection of Georgian Chants" includes samples and musical notation of the chants from each regions of Georgia. "You are the Vineyard" offers 21 variants of musical notations of this hymn, 14 of which are recorded in the attached audio album (including "Rustavi", "Basiani," etc.),” said Giorgi Donadze, Director of the Georgian Folklore State Center. The Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurter Buchmesse) has a 500-year history. It is celebrated in Frankfurt mid-October every year, hosts up to 300,000 visitors and exhibits up to 400,000 books.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2018

Georgian Post Hosts PostEurop Plenary Assembly & Business Innovation Forum BY ANA DUMBADZE

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ostEurop's 25th Anniversary Plenary Assembly and Business Innovation Forum were held on October 3-4 in the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi, hosted by Georgian Post. Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), Bishar Abdirahman Hussein, Deputy Director General of UPU, Pascal Clivaz, and senior officials of 52 postal operators from 49 countries visited Georgia within the scope of the PostEurope Plenary Assembly. The attendees of the event discussed postal reforms, postal sector development plans and the perspectives of future partnerships among the members of the PostEurop association. With the support of Georgian Post, a Business Innovation Forum was also held. The Forum was attended by over 100 representatives of international companies related to the postal business. The Forum also featured some of the most successful startups. Avtandil Kasradze, Acting Chairman of Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA), was the first speaker at the Business Innovation Forum, giving

a presentation about enhancing the innovation ecosystem in Georgia and stressing the importance of building a knowledge-based and innovation-driven economy. The speakers from different countries made interesting presentations about their innovative businesses, and successful startuppers presented their projects and visions related to the postal business and logistics. According to Levan Chikvaidze, General Director of Georgian Post, hosting the Business Innovation Forum is both

important and useful for Georgian entrepreneurs and businessmen to enable them to establish new contacts, get more experience and expand their logistical schemes. “Georgian Post is honored to host PostEurop's Plenary Assembly and the Business Innovation Forum. It is a great occasion for bringing the wider community together to discuss important issues in the postal industry. The event is also an excellent opportunity for our guests to get acquainted with our country, its culture, history, and people. The

Business Innovation Forum is directly connected with the postal sector, as technical progress is essential for this direction. This forum is a platform and an opportunity for the companies working in this field to present their products before 52 national postal operators. It is a new opportunity for Georgian innovators and entrepreneurs to share their visions with their European colleagues and draw conclusions based on the best practice. I hope that each of them will use this chance,“ Chikvaidze said. Cynthia Wee, PostEurop Communication Manager, also stressed the importance of using new technologies in the postal industry. “PostEurop believes in creating a favorable structure for postal operators. This forum is especially important, as it is focused on innovation. It is a platform for common decisions. Over recent years, most postal operators have begun to look towards innovation as a way to help them become sustainable in the future. It helps them to understand how to build business, how to serve more customers, and more. Georgian startuppers attending this forum will get acquainted with the stories of successful colleagues, giving them a motto for success,” she noted. According to one of the speakers of

the Forum, Michael Jiresch, Managing Director of Adverserve Holding, one of the leading independent providers of Ad Technologies and Digital Advertising in Europe, participating in the Business Innovation Forum was important for him, and provided yet another chance to present the company’s products to a wider audience. “The Business Innovation Forum offers a lot of opportunities to start a new business. The businessmen and entrepreneurs should stay open to innovations and look into where a new business can be started,” Jiresch added. The Business Innovation Forum was followed by the PostEurop 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner, hosted by Georgian Post and PostEurop for all delegates and accompanying persons. Georgian Post is a member and partner of PostEurop, the European social postal association founded in Brussels in 1993, which includes 52 postal operators from 49 countries. It represents a leading national postal operator that is involved in providing consumers with universal postal services. The company is oriented to using modern technologies that allow it to provide clients with as fast a service as possible. Currently, Georgian Post enjoys successful cooperation with the world’s 191 countries.

Turkish Shipbuilding BGCC & Entrepreneur Host ‘The Plant Plans to Build 4 Pragmatic Entrepreneur’ Stephan Fitch Military Vessels with the Azerbaijani Navy BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

T

BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

T

he Turkish shipbuilding plant ‘Dearsan’ has said it plans to build four military vessels together with the Azerbaijani Navy. Servet Bilgin, an offshore project manager for offshore projects, said that negotiations were being held with the Azerbaijani government, and four projects have been presented to the Azerbaijani side. "The issue was also discussed with the leadership of the Azerbaijani Navy. If an agreement is reached, we will proceed with the joint construction of ships in

Azerbaijan," he said, adding that Azerbaijani specialists will also participate in this process. Bilgin noted that the vessels to be built will take into account the geographical features of the Caspian Sea and the balance of power of the countries in of the region. "The project has already been submitted to the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan. We also spoke to the Baku Shipyard where we are planning to build the vessels," he said. The project manager added that the structure he represents has been cooperating with Azerbaijan for three years. The 3rd Azerbaijan International Defense Exhibition ADEX-2018, which was held in Baku on September 25-27, showcased the products of Dearsan.

he author of ‘The Cycle of Inequity,’ which addresses the global misallocation of capital and its systemic causes, particularly in relation to SMEs, and the inventor of the Uniform Business Classification System (BGS), was invited by Entrepreneur Magazine (Georgian Edition) and the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC) to talk to Georgian entrepreneurs at the prestigious Regus Tbilisi business center yesterday. Stephan A. Fitch is a self-titled “serial entrepreneur” who has worked over the past 35 years on developing a wide variety of new technologies worldwide. He is also the co-founder, director, inventor and CEO of Business Governance Solutions Ltd (BGS), which developed an innovative software platform providing enterprises with cost-effective solutions to managing the many aspects of their business processes, in effect, acting as a virtual COO. “I am a 60-year-old entrepreneur who

has worked over the past 35 years on developing a wide variety of new technologies ranging from superconducting chip manufacturing to pharmaceuticals and mineral exploration,” Fitch told his audience. “In most cases, these activities included identifying and validating technologies, building the management teams to run them and funding their growth through both private and public offerings. My direc-

torships, in addition to our own portfolio companies, have and do extend to other unrelated companies, often public, where I have served as Chairman of Audit, Governance and Compensation committees. The proprietary technology I have created in Business Governance Solutions, a transformative software platform and its associated products, reflects a culmination of all my collective experiences.” He then went on to engage the audience in the following topics: 1. Raising Money in Difficult Times; 2. Establishing and Maintaining Ownership and Operational Control; 3. Working with and Navigating Government Regulation; 4. Establishing International Markets; and 5. Funding Growth. “It’s an honor for us to cooperate with BGCC and to host Mr. Stephan A. Fitch here in Georgia together with members of the BGCC and partners of Entrepreneur Magazine,” said George Sharashidze, Editor-in-Chief, Entrepreneur Magazine Georgian edition. “It was a great opportunity to listen to such an experienced entrepreneur, chat with him in person and gain new knowledge on doing business globally.

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2018

Photo: Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development

Sixth DCFTA Advisory Group Meeting BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

T

he sixth meeting of the DCFTA Advisory Group was held at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development on Thursday, October 4. The meeting was attended by Deputy Minister Genadi Arveladze. During the meeting, the members of the advisory group selected a new chair, Nino Chikovani, who will lead the group for the next year. She is currently President of the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Giorgi Kacharava, Executive Director of the EU-Georgia Business Council, was elected as her deputy chair. Arveladze spoke to the attendees about Georgia’s commitment, agreed upon as part of the DCFTA, to approve new terms and conditions for the Technical Regulation on Construction. He also emphasized the importance of informing the business sector of the new regulations in a timely manner. Chikovani gave a presentation on the activities of the DCFTA Information Center of the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the results of the project. The DCFTA Information Center has been financially supported by GIZ (German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH) for the past two years. Information centers operate in Batumi, Zugdidi, Kutaisi and Gori. Attendees shared information about the latest accomplishments regarding the implementation of the DCFTA so far in 2018. The advisory group also discussed a variety of technical issues raised by the members and various proposals for projects to further assist the implementation process of the DCFTA. Members emphasized the importance of

continued and increased involvement of the private sector in the process and the necessity to expand general awareness of the DCFTA. Representatives of the Georgian Employers’ Association, Georgian Trade Unions Confederation, the Georgian Small and Medium Enterprises Association, the EU-Georgia Business Council, the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the International Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, and the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum also attended the meeting. The DCFTA, or Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, entered into force in July 2016 as part of the Association Agreement Georgia signed with the European Union in June 2014. The preferential trade regime increases market access between the EU and Georgia based on a system of better-matched regulations. Georgian businesses have so far struggled to benefit from the regime, however, as the main potential export, agriculture, has failed to overcome the hurdle of European technical, quality, and food safety regulations. The Georgian government’s DCFTA informational website explains that the DCFTA Advisory Group was established in 2015 within the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development to ensure civil society would be actively involved in the process of effectively implementing the DCFTA. The advisory group is comprised of representatives from associations and the business sector of Georgia. Its main functions and objectives include reviewing reforms related to the DCFTA, consulting on planned and ongoing reforms, and legislative and institutional changes related to the DCFTA implementation process, consulting on the employers, employees, and consumers adaptation processes in regards to DCFTA requirements, and reviewing the DCFTA’s implementation Action Plan and related reports.

Private Sector to Participate in Vehicle Technical Inspection Campaign

Image source: Ministry of Economy

BY THEA MORRISON

T

he Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia reports that the private sector will be involved in the information campaign about the mandatory technical inspection

of vehicles. The memorandum was signed by the representatives of the Ministry, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and six large companies: Wissol Petroleum Georgia Ltd, Socar Georgia Petroleum Ltd, San Petroleum Georgia Ltd, Majid Al Futhaim Hypermarkets Georgia Ltd, JSC Goodwill and JSC Nikora Trade. According to the Ministry, the memorandum is open and any other interested companies can join it. An active information campaign via television, radio and social media is aimed at informing the population about the reform. In addition, it is planned to hold informational meetings in cities and municipalities throughout Georgia, and the private sector will be involved in the process within the frames of social responsibility. Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Akaki Saghirashvili spoke about the importance of provision of timely and correct communication with the public regarding the reform, after the parties signed the memorandum on October 5. “We are grateful to all those who are willing to cooperate with us within the framework of the reform. We believe that in cooperation with the

business and the public sector, we will achieve our goal and the reform will be successful,” the Deputy Minister stated. Nino Chikovani, the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Georgia, also highlighted the importance of information about the technical inspection reform being delivered to the population as efficiently as possible. “The six companies that signed the memorandum have expressed their readiness to introduce the information on technical inspection reforms within their business networks. This is a good example of social responsibility,” she noted. Obligatory technical inspection of vehicles took effect on January 1, 2018. The first stage required trucks of over 3.5 tons and passenger cars with more than eight seats to undergo safety checks. The second stage, launched on July 1, 2018, required all vehicles registered to state entities to undergo a mandatory check, which was followed by the third stage from October 1. From October 1, 2018, the third stage of mandatory technical inspections of vehicles was launched in Georgia, envisaging inspection of all automobiles with 3.0 engines and above. From January 1, 2019, the government expects to launch the final phase of the campaign and require all other vehicles to undergo mandatory testing. Vehicles which are four years old or less will not have to undergo an inspection. Cars that are foursix years old will undergo testing once every two years and cars older than six years will have to be tested every year. Under the Georgia-EU Association Agreement signed in 2014, Georgia is obligated to ensure all vehicles are in line with EU standards.

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2018

Assume the Best of Tbilisi Taxi Drivers & Get the Best BY ERIC LIVNY, TBILINOMICS POLICY ADVISORS

E

ver since moving to Tbilisi more than 11 years ago, I’ve never stopped practicing the Eric Livny taxi experiment. Here is how it goes. Every time I hail a taxi, I open the door and sit in front. No questions asked, no tedious haggling over a Lari or two. About 30 seconds into the ride, I use my basic Georgian to tell the driver where we are heading, which very often happens to be my home in Tbilisi’s Vera district – Gogebashvilis meore shesakhvevi, mesame chikhi, nomeri khuti. Soon after, a Georgian language conversation ensues, involving questions like where I am from (Israel? Wow, what a great country, I have lots of childhood friends in Ashdod); how many years I’ve lived in Georgia (11 years? That’s a long time, how do you like it here, is your wife a Georgian, what do you do?), and more. By the time we finish going through this routine, the taxi arrives at the destination, which is when the most intriguing part of the experiment begins. Without saying anything, I hand the driver a bill of 10 GEL and wait for him to give me some change. Of course, I know that a short ride should not cost more than 3-4 GEL, but the whole point of the experiment is to let the driver decide, all by himself, how much change to give back. The driver’s options are to give me the right change of 6-7 GEL, cheat a little (give back, say, 5 GEL) or cheat a lot – give back 2-3 GEL or nothing at all. How much money do you think I get on average? I recently told this story to my economics students, inviting them to guess how much change I normally get. The answers

obviously ranged, but the majority expected me to be cheated a little. The most frequent guess was 5 GEL. Now, the truth is that in more than 90% of my taxi experiments, and I’ve conducted a lot of them, I received exactly the right change! 6 or 7 GEL. I’ve not been cheated a lot. A few times I was given back 5 GEL, but even then the drivers felt the need to apologize for not having small change. Moreover, I recall two rides when the drivers did not want to take any money, explaining that I am a God-sent guest (stumari) in their country and, therefore, it is a pleasure for them to offer me a free ride. Finally, on one difficult-toforget occasion, the driver gave me the right change, but then insisted that I should try his home-made wine. And he really meant it. The next day he delivered a 5-liter bottle of delicious Kakhetian Saperavi to my house. If you happen to be holding a glass of wine in your hand, this is the time to raise it to Georgia’s hospitality traditions! There could be many serious takeaways from this story. One of them concerns my economics students. It is quite possible that some of them have experienced a rough ride (or two) with Tbilisi taxi drivers. Another possibility, however, is that they’ve studied too much economics. What economics theory teaches, at its core, is that people are not really the complex humans that they are, but primitive buy/sell algorithms. Economists assume (without any evidence) that people simplistically maximize “utility” derived from the consumption of goods and leisure. At its simplest, they sell their time to employers (or clients) and use their earnings to buy food, clothes, and in some cases, villas and private yachts. Importantly, economists assume that people will cheat whenever the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs. So, had the Tbilisi taxi drivers behaved according to economics textbooks, I would have

With no regulation in place, a taxi driver’s job is a common social safety net for Georgia’s unemployed

been left with little change in every single round of my experiment. The economics logic is quite straightforward. Drivers cannot derive any material utility from treating me fairly. Given that we haven’t agreed on the price in advance, they have every “legal” right to charge me anything they want. Therefore, they will face no sanctions for giving me the wrong change. And since the ride is a one-off transaction with very little probability of repeat business, ripping me off (at least a little) makes perfect sense, speaking economics, that is.

WHY THEN, AM I TREATED SO GENEROUSLY? I believe that in my particular case, Georgian taxi drivers are driven (pun intended) not by greed, but by a desire to impress me, to make me feel welcome in their country. This desire may be quite strong because of how I set up the experiment: I am, indeed, a visitor to Georgia, but unlike other visitors, I feel comfortable sitting next to my driver-hosts (I realize that some female visitors do not feel safe

doing so). Furthermore, I am making a genuine effort to speak to them in their own language. Finally, given how I entered their car, our business transaction is based on trust, rather than any kind of contract. Like most Georgians, the drivers in my experiment are probably having a hard time making enough money to make ends meet. And yet, the base economic motivation to earn an extra buck off a naïve client is somehow trampled by a desire to feel good. To feel that they have treated me in an honorable way, contributing to their country’s centuries-old tradition of hospitality. As demonstrated by experimentalists such as Dan Ariely, the feel-good motivation in people is a lot stronger than mainstream economists would like to admit. Eager to feel good, the drivers in our example are making a conscious contribution to a “public good,” something that should not happen according to most economics textbooks. Think of it. Georgia’s reputation as a safe and hospitable place is, indeed, a

public good, something that serves every single person living in this small country, regardless of whether they themselves behave in a hospitable and honorable way. Just like clean air, it can be enjoyed to the same extent by the crooks and the righteous Georgians. It is there for everybody, regardless of their contribution, creating powerful economic incentives to free-ride and misbehave. Another important takeaway from this story concerns whole societies. What economics teaches us, is that every human action is based on an individual costbenefit calculation. Yet, societies in which people are socialized to constantly make such calculations, and free-ride at the expense of others, would not survive in the process of evolution. Their sons would not sacrifice their lives for the sake of future generations. Greed and egoism will chase such people apart; what pleasure is there in being surrounded by neighbors who would screw you over the moment they have a chance? Unlike many other ancient societies, the Georgian people have survived throughout centuries, and they probably owe their survival to their land’s honorable traditions, including the tradition of hospitality. Despite their importance for the survival of whole nations, prosocial norms, such as hospitality, cannot be easily incorporated into inherently egoistic models to be found in economics textbooks. I hope, however, that my economics students will not be blinded by these textbooks, and will quickly learn that when we assume the best about people, we are also likely to get the best out of them. Just like in my taxi experiment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Livny is Founder and President at Tbilinomics Policy Advisors. In 2007-2018, he served as President with the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET) and ISET Policy Institute.

Batiashvili Introduces New, Reform-Oriented Team BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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ikheil Batiashvili, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, held a special briefing on Thursday to discuss the recent personnel changes in the Ministry and presented the staff changes to the public. Batiashvili wished his new employees success and emphasized that the success of the new education reforms lies in their hands. Since taking office in mid-July, Batiashvili has designed a complete transformation of Georgian education and has been quickly making changes in the Ministry, including many staff changes. “We plan to implement a 5-level reform that involves the integration of preschool education, school education, vocational education, higher education and science, the introduction of innovative education systems, and more importantly, the deepening of close ties between education and economics. I am sure Minister Batiashvili will be able to implement these very important reforms,” said Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze when he appointed Batiashvili to his position. Batiashvili appointed Natia ZedgenidzeJishkariani to the position of Deputy

Image source: Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport

Minister, who will be responsible for coordinating and controlling all administrative activities within the Ministry. Zedginidze-Jishkariani has 20 years’ experience working as a manager in the private and public sector. She worked at the Parliament of Georgia as the Head of Office for the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. She has academic experience in various Georgian higher education institutions and has participated in many professional development programs including at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Maastricht University in The

Netherlands. Current Deputy Minister Aleksandre Tevzadze announced that he will leave his position at the Ministry after October 31. Zviad Gabisonia will become the new General Director of the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation. Gabisonia has worked in academia at several higher education institutions for the past 19 years. His experience includes top positions in the private sector – particularly with companies working in the legal field. Gabisonia, who holds an academic doctorate in legal sciences, has degrees

from Bremen University and the University of Bonn. He also held a scientific internship at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Berika Shukakidze, to be the next Director of the National Center for Teachers’ Professional Development, has a doctorate in Education from Ilia State University and a master's degree in Education Management and Supervision from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He has 23 years’ experience in education as an associate professor and researcher, and is the author of more than 10 academic articles. Giorgi Vashakidze has been appointed director of the National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement. He has a JD from the University of Hamburg and is the author of many monographs and articles. Vashakidze has more than 10 years’ work experience in international, private, and public management positions. He has worked in academia for the past nine years and has served as an expert on projects for UNDP and USAID as well as being a board member for the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation. Sophia Gorgodze will be the new director of the National Assessment and Examination Center. She has 14 years’ experience in the education system. In the field of education management, Gor-

godze has held senior positions and provided advisory services in the public sector and for national and international non-governmental organizations. She has administered training courses at various institutes of higher education on the subjects of education policy, assessments, and education studies. Gorgodze has served as the Georgian delegate on the Council of Europe's General Education Committee. She has a master’s in International Education Policy from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and a doctorate from Ilia State University. Gorgodze has published several articles on education in international and Georgian publications. The newly appointed directors were selected through a publicly announced, open competition for the vacant positions. In August, Batiashvili established a working group on the education system reform that includes a variety of stakeholders. Last month, together with Prime Minister Bakhtadze, Batiashvili announced more details of his education reform strategy. The strategy includes a focus on the regions outside of Tbilisi, increased access to and availability of vocational education programs, a new model for financing, and further integration in the European architecture of higher education.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2018

Multiplex: Performance of an International Investment Group in Georgia

BY MARIAM SURMANIDZE

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ultiplex international finance group has been implementing various projects in various sectors of Georgia for many years, including a logistics infrastructure development project designed for countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In his interview with GEORGIA TODAY, Konstantine Mkheidze, member of the company supervisory board, talks about the Multiplex Group.

WHICH DIRECTIONS DOES MULTIPLEX FOCUS ON AND WHY HAS THE INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT GROUP CHOSEN GEORGIA IN WHICH TO DO BUSINESS? The company, with the full appellation of Multiplex Petrolia Logistics Solutions BV (MPLS), was established in 2013 on the initiative of Levan Kacharava. He has rich experience, operating in the logistics sector since the 1990s, when he became one of the founders of the Silk Road Group. Since then, the holding established in The Netherlands has united several Georgia-based companies and shaped a logistics group to provide container shipping services from the Black Sea ports of Georgia to Central Asian countries. Everybody knows that Georgia’s location is of crucial strategic importance. We simply decided to implement this idea in reality and I think we have achieved our goal. Proposing alternative offers in this field was a precondition for shaping MPLS and we can say with full responsibility that our team has successfully activated the full cycle of international container shipping through Georgia.

WHAT IS THE OBJECTIVE OF YOUR COMPANY? Our objective is to provide delivery services to Georgia and the Central Asia region, shape infrastructure for shipping cargoes from these regions to the west and provide due services. There is high demand for supply services in Central Asian countries. Specifically, this region is populated by about 60 million individuals. They are dynamically developing and demographically growing countries. Organizing a supply chain for these regions, provision of cheap services, ensuring high technological capacity of the process, transparency and efficiency create grounds for growing the competitive capacity of MPLS.

MPLS has combined several businesses into a single cycle

We ensure a perfect technologically valuable production process Before the establishment of Multiplex Petrolia Logistics Solutions BV, supply of Central Asian region countries and exports of products created in these countries was carried out via other shipping methods. However, the level of services, operative shipping and the supply timeframes could not satisfy the existing demands. In that period, container shipping was not carried out in this direction, while today container shipping represents an important segment in international cargo turnover. We have managed to shape a full cycle of logistics business.

IN WHICH SPECIFIC DIRECTIONS DOES MULTIPLEX OFFER COMPETITION? MPLS has combined several businesses into a single cycle: container cargo reception and processing, storing in specialized refrigerator complexes, registration of cargo and transportation. The socalled North route for supply of Central Asia, from Klaipeda and St. Petersburg seaports, has shaped the alternative supply chain. Moreover, through Georgia we ensure fast supply services for Central Asian countries from South and North America. The company ship operates for cargo transportation in the Caspian Sea zone and we have good experience of working on non-military cargoes for Afghanistan. I believe this is not only innovative and an interesting direction for business, but also makes a real and profitable business for Central Asian countries and Georgia. All these factors stress that MPLS has earned itself a lot of confidence on the international market.

WHICH COMPANIES DOES MULTIPLEX GROUP UNITE? The MPLS BV Group unites several companies, including American Monolith with a 10,000-ton refrigerator complex in Poti, Arco with a 4,500-ton refrigerator complex in Tbilisi, Hasting Enterprise with transport infrastructure, which also manages the Hovsan private seaport in Baku, and RFG company implementing cargo logistics. We ensure a perfect technologically valuable production process. The mentioned companies ensure the thorough cycle of this business. We finished construction of the Poti refrigerator complex in 2011 and reconstruction-reequipping of the Tbilisi refrigerator complex in 2014. Poti works on transit cargoes, while Tbilisi is oriented on domestic market demands. At this stage, both complexes fully meet modern standards in terms of quality control and cargo registration.

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2018

ADB to Allocate EUR 255 mln to Help Build Rikoti-Zestaponi Road The Expansion of Georgia’s Winter Resort Goderdzi BY THEA MORRISON

Source: Imedinews

BY ANNA ZHVANIA

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ccording to Imedinews, an agreement between Georgia and the Asian Development Bank was signed with the purpose of financing the "East-West Express Highway Improvement Pro-

ject". The agreement includes the allocation of EUR 255,297,000 to the East-West Highway railroad

development and building of a 12 km, 4-lane road between Khevi and Ubisa. The document was signed by the Minister of Finance Ivane Machavariani and Director of Permanent Representative of the Asian Development Bank Yeshim Elhan Khayalari. Due to complex geologic conditions, the project includes construction of 35 bridges, with a total length of 8.3km, and 20 tunnels of 9.4km in total. The project is to be implemented by the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia through the Roads Department and is expected to be complete by June 2024.

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eorgia’s Goderdzi ski-resort will meet its visitors this year with a new hotel, more developed internal roads, extended ski slopes and a new restaurant. First established in 2015, Goderdzi is located in a unique climate zone in the Adjara region, on the Goderdzi Pass just 100 kilometers from the Black Sea coast and 2000 meters above sea level. It is three times larger than Georgia’s other well-known mountain resorts Gudauri and Bakuriani. Director of Goderdzi Resorts, Malkhaz Makharadze, says that construction of several hotels is also underway, noting they might not be completed before the opening of the tourist season. “All the constructions, hotels and food facilities here are being built by the private sector. At this stage, only a 13-room hotel is completed, which

will be able to accommodate tourists this year. In addition, construction of a further eight hotels is also underway,” he said. Makharadze also spoke about the infrastructure of the resort, describing the internal roads which are being arranged to connect to the central route next year. “Bakuriani was being built for 30 years, Gudauri – 25. We are a new resort; we opened three years ago and we are slowly moving forward. Most of the interior of the resort has already been arranged and we have added 800 meters of road this year,” he said. He went on to highlight that the resort will likely have a new restaurant this year, but emphasized that this depends on the owner company and the weather conditions. “Now, construction of a 500-person restaurant is underway. If the weather in September-October and early November is good, it is likely that the restaurant will be completed this year. This is a private investment, worth about GEL 4 million,” he added.

New Mining Chip Unveiled In Tbilisi

Image source: bitsonline.com

BY SHAWN WAYNE

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hinese Bitcoin mining giants, Bitmain have recently announced the development of a new 7nm mining chip that could change the game for the mining of Bitcoin. This ‘next-generation’ 7nm application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip, known as the BM1391, was launched at the World Digital Mining Summit in Tbilisi, Georgia. Jihan Wu, CEO, Bitmain, confirmed that the BM1391 chip is set for deployment in its next iteration of mining rigs. The bitcoin mining industry is having an exciting couple of days because the developments at Bitmain come literally hours after competitors; Bitfury also confirmed the launch of a new 14nm mining chip, labeled the Bitfury Clarke. However, the nextgeneration offering from Bitmain is said to offer improved hashing power and energy efficiency in comparison with older models of ASIC processors. The new 7nm mining chip is built for mining cryptocurrencies using the SHA256 algorithm.

Now if you do not understand any of this don’t worry, here is a quick crash course on bitcoin and the mining of bitcoin. The aim of bitcoin at the end of the day is to provide a way to exchange tokens of value online without having to rely on centralized intermediaries, such as banks. Instead the necessary record-keeping is decentralized into a “blockchain”, an ever-expanding ledger that holds the transaction history of all bitcoins in circulation, and lives on the thousands of machines on the bitcoin network. Where a central authority is absent, mining replaces it. Every few minutes, mining computers, such as antminers, collect a few pending bitcoin transactions called a block, and turn them into a mathematical puzzle. The first miner to find the solution announces it to the network. The other miners then check whether the sender of the funds is authorized, and whether the solution to the puzzle is correct. If enough of them grant their approval, over 50% of them, the block is cryptographically added to the ledger and the miners move on to the next set of transactions, essentially creating a blockchain. Continued on page 11


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2018

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Beefing Up Security BY SHAWN WAYNE

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eorgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze stated on October 1 that Georgian air space will become more secure and protected through the combined efforts of the Georgian government and the United States. The PM made the statement at the Alekseevka aviation base on the outskirts of Tbilisi when viewing the new equipment Georgia had received from French Thales LAS SAS and MBDA companies. On 15 June 2015, the Georgian Ministry of Defense concluded contracts with France for an amount exceeding 300 million GEL (about $115 million) for the purchase of air defense systems. The first contract is with ThalesRaytheonSystems (TRS, a joint venture between the American company Raytheon and the French group Thales) which provided a mobile ground-based warning radar for detecting and monitoring air targets, and two mobile radars for mid-range detection of air targets, as well as Thales mobile air defense command posts. The second contract was for the sup-

ply of MBDA Mistral ATLAS anti-aircraft missile systems, a short-range air defense weapon system normally operated by a gunner and a crew commander, though if the mission is carried out in a simple tactical environment, it can be operated by one single soldier. It boasts a 97% proven success rate and has higher reliability than any other existing low-level air defense missile. The implementation of the contracts with Georgia was delayed for political and financial reasons and it was not until 2017 that the French leaders gave their agreement for its implementation. The French bank Societe Generale granted a loan to Georgia of about EUR 100 million (about $115 million) in order to finance the contracts. Authorization for the shipment was given in Paris early 2018. Bakhtadze and Defense Ministry officials also viewed the helicopter fleet which is currently being renovated with the help of the US. Bakhtadze said that in addition to purchasing air defense weapons, Georgia is improving its air transport and logistics capabilities. However, in these modern times, physical threats are not the only thing to worry about. Countering the use of propaganda and cyber security threats play a major role in securing a country.

On October 4, the United States released new evidence and indictments accusing Russian military spies of hacking anyone who investigates Moscow's involvement in an array of criminal activities. Russia denied the accusations and tried to sway attention towards the US, accusing them of running a biological weapons program involving toxic mosquitoes, ticks and more. On Thursday, US authorities charged seven officers with hacking international agencies. The officers are accused by multiple authorities for a devastating 2017 cyber-attack on Ukraine, the email leaks that rocked the US 2016 election and other damaging hacks. It has also been reported that they allegedly tried to hack into the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, yet failed. Russia accused the US of developing a chemical and biological weapons program along its borders on Thursday following the charges and accusations of hacking, in order to draw attention away. General-Major Igor Kirillov, Commander of Russia’s radiological, chemical and biological defense troops, said Moscow based its conclusion on documents released by former Minister of Georgian State Security, Igor Giorgadze,

making statements such as “could that really be for innocent medical research?” and “Russia will not allow the United States to carry out biological experiments near its borders.” No question and answer session was offered and the press conference, which had been quickly drawn together at the moment Russia understood it would soon be announced that four of its citizens had been expelled from The Netherlands over an attempted cyber-attack on the OPCW. A mixture of cyber-attacks and welltimed propaganda can shift things in a direction which might endanger the reputation of Georgia, simultaneously hurting NATO relations and EU relations; however, this time it did not work. Russia acted recklessly and desperately

in order to cover their own tracks. Georgia will have to beef up not just their physical defenses, but their cyber security as well. A key issue here is the energy business: with these companies being mainly private, their systems become prime targets for cyber-attacks, which could cripple not just Georgia but the whole of the EU. Hackers have caused losses of millions of dollars over Europe and even caused an explosion on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline in Turkey, due to cyber security not being up to standard. Warfare has evolved beyond simply having the bigger stick, and with Georgia becoming a tech hub for crypto currency miners, some doors are bound to be opened that we do not necessarily want to leave unguarded.

EU4Energy’s Event in Tbilisi New Mining Chip BY EMIL AVDALIANI

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nOctober4-5,Tbilisihosted high-level talks within the EU4Energy Governance Project on the ongoing gas market reform in Georgia. The EU4Energy Governance Project is a technical assistance project funded by the European Union, under the EU4Energy Initiative. This initiative covers all EU support to improve energy supply, security and connectivity as well as to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewables in the eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine). The project targets policymakers working in the energy sector of Eastern Partner countries and helps them strengthen their legislative and regulatory frameworks as well as identify investment opportunities in key energy infrastructure projects. Within this project, the Energy Community Secretariat is delivering technical assistance to three Eastern Partner countries: Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, which are fully-fledged members of the Energy Community. Regional activities of the project also involve Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. High-level talks held in Tbilisi on October 4-5 follow last year’s similar discussions on raising Georgia’s energy efficiency in general and this year’s April meeting on highlighting opportunities of EU gas market reforms. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to gas expert Peter Pozsgai of the Energy Community Secretariat on how EU4Energy will reshape Georgia’s energy market. Pozsgai stated, “the role of our organization is to help contracting parties, in this case Georgia, to implement energy and environment-related legislation”. For Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, we

have legally binding frameworks, whereas Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus are participating but do not fully enjoy those opportunities the former three do.” Pozsgai also said that “in the Energy Community Secretariat, we work on legal aspects of various project implementations. Georgia used to be an observer in the Community and several years ago submitted a request for full membership.” This program called the EU4Energy is a recent project which started in 2016. The host of the program is entirely the EU. This program is a successor to the previous one called INOGATE, which was also managed by the European Commission. INOGATE was different from the nowadays EU4Energy program and consisted of five related components: energy policies, data statistics, transparency, legislative, and visibility. These five components were outsourced to various external organizations. “EU4Energy's governance component

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is a EUR 6.8 mln program for Eastern Partnership countries, Pozsgai said. “This component represents part of the EU4Energy's bigger, EUR 21 mln initiative, which also covers Central Asia. EU4Energy's major aim is legislative and regulatory development as well as enhancement of investment climate for crucial energy infrastructure projects. We have several offices and one of them was opened in Tbilisi last year.” The EU4Energy the two-day event was dedicated to increasing the potential of government bodies, representatives of the gas sector and other interested parties. This is also related to regulating the natural gas market and to the questions of organization, management and functioning. The two-day event helped to improve the institutional framework of the policies that will be implemented in Georgia’s gas sector. The discussion at the event was also expected to help speed up the introduction of first and secondary legislation, which will regulate the activities within the gas sector and is commensurate with the 3rd Energy Package. The event was also about discussing how successfully the reform process of Georgia’s natural gas is going; the overall design of the market, its organizational structure and size as well as the existing challenges and future perspectives. The EU4Energy event also involved the discussion of such important issues as the scope of the natural gas market, its structure and and retail prices, gas operators’ role, and gas market shareholders’ rights and obligations. Pozsgai also told us that the natural gas reform which will be implemented in Georgia, beyond the obvious benefits, will also bring much market transparency, strengthen liquidity and competitiveness, and at the same time give consumers a chance around the country to choose or change their gas provider.

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

Unveiled In Tbilisi Continued from page 10

The miner who found the solution first gets a certain amount of bitcoins as a reward, but only after another 99 blocks has been added to the chain. This is what gives miners an incentive to participate in the system and validate transactions. Mining pools are also formed where miners pool their computing resources in order for the group to solve the puzzle first and the split the reward. Having the miners solve puzzles in order to add to the chain provides protection, because in order to double-spend a bitcoin, you would need to rewrite the blockchain. Keep in mind that bitcoin miners now have a combined number-crunching power of about 13,000 times more than the world’s 500 biggest supercomputers and you’ll need to control more than half of that network’s puzzle-solving capacity. Such an attack would be virtually impossible. Now that you understand the basics, you can imagine the implication of a new chip on the market such as the BM1391, which incorporates an advanced semiconductor manufacturing technology, known as 7nm FinFET. It features over one billion transistors that are optimized for energy efficiency. At a time when energy consumption is a major talking point in the crypto mining space, Mr. Wu confirmed that the BM1391 chip is capable of achieving a ratio of energy consumption to mining capacity that is as low as 42J/TH. Although more detailed specifications are yet to be unveiled, the chip is already being mas-produced. Bitmain owns one of the largest automatic mining pools, called AntPool. The brand is the fourth largest Bitcoin mining pool, boasting almost 11% of the network’s total hashrate in recent weeks. In a bid to increase the exposure of Bit-

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coin mining and to shine a spotlight on its expansion efforts – including a mega crypto mining and data centre in Rockdale, Texas – AntPool has signed with a sponsorship deal of NBA team, Houston Rockets for the 2018/19 NBA season. As part of the agreement, AntPool will be launching a new exhibition at the Toyota Center, which is the home of the Rockets. The Houston Rockets have a surprisingly large supporter base in China, where Bitmain is headquartered. Haijiao Li, overseas operations manager, AntPool, spoke in glowing terms of the sponsorship deal with the Rockets. Li said that as the cryptocurrency industry around the globe continues to evolve and develop there will be a greater need for brands such as AntPool to drive the conversation and conversion of consumers to educate the benefits of digital assets. Bitmain has doubled down on cryptocurrencies: in addition to selling kit to mine bitcoin, it holds $886.9m of cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, bitcoin Cash and ethereum, accounting for 28 per cent of total assets at end-June. These, it said, were accounted for at cost rather than market value. It also accepts digital currency for its kit. Bitmain’s funding round was hounded by issues, including complaints of different prices and inaccurate information. Temasek, Singapore’s investment arm, was forced to put out a statement denying any involvement, or even discussions, with Bitmain. Early backers were told Bitmain hoped to be worth $30bn to $40bn in three years. Unusually, Bitmain has handed the mandate for its IPO to a single bank, China International Capital Corp. Chinese companies usually boast a long line of sponsors and advisers when they list, heavily tilted towards the big global investment banks.

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Issue #1090 Business  

October 9 - 11, 2018

Issue #1090 Business  

October 9 - 11, 2018

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