The prospect of British investments in Georgia

The prospect of British investments in Georgia

An interview with Mark Pritchard, member of British Parliament, appointed as a special trade representative of the United Kingdom in Georgia and Armenia.

–   You are the first representative of the United Kingdom in Georgia, working on trade issues. The trade turnover between Georgia and Britain is not very high, what will be the priority direction for you in this position?

–  There are a lot of rules meant to increase trade opportunities. United Kingdom is one of the biggest markets in the world. The business environment is getting better in Georgia, but there should be more growth and I think that the Georgian government also realizes this. I hope that the United Kingdom will fulfil its role not only with regard to trade issues but also to direct foreign investments – in sectors like banking, real estate, manufacturing, education. All these fields are potentially attractive for British investors. The focus should be made on specific and target sectors. But we should not end up with presentations and simple conversations, we rather need a very tangible result. My appointment by the Prime Minister is a sign that the United Kingdom is very serious about the issue of trade and mutual business relations with Georgia.

–   In 2019, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. Should we expect retention of current trade agreements with the United Kingdom?

–   After BREXIT, we should concentrate on the present day and on what should be done for improved trade relations.

BREXIT will take place in 2019, however, Prime Minister Theresa May in her recent speech stated that transition will take 2 years. That is why the last date is April 2021. We are not awaiting for this day, we want increased investments and improved trade relations today.

–   Georgia has already signed the Free Trade Agreement with EU, as well as with China, which agreement will become effective in the nearest future. Negotiations on conclusion of such an agreement are also being held with USA. However, within this period, no dramatic increase of export to EU has been noticed. How should manufacturers make a better use of the free trade opportunities?

–  ou mentioned that there is no dramatic change in trade relations with EU, but there is some increase. Little increase is much better than no increase at all. Learning lessons is always possible in trade relations. Georgia is in a good position to also teach Britain – you have very close trade relations with partners within the region, which other countries might not have. United Kingdom can learn much from Georgia. My obligation is to make sure that any mutual agreement that will be concluded in the future or has already been concluded is successful.

–   We also have success stories. For instance, Georgian cranberries and wool has been exported to UK. What would be your advice to the Georgian manufacturers for increasing export?

–   I am happy that the government made a decision to establish the institute of commercial attaches. United Kingdom is the leader among countries where Georgia will have such a representative. This is a very positive message a step forward towards further strengthening of mutual trade relations and attraction of investments today. However, it is not only the government to play its role, but private sector as well. Private sector should make more together with the government. We see many positive shifts, but the future is even brighter.

Private sector should enter the European capitals, particularly London. Georgia has great history, culture and this helps it, especially in the field of winemaking.

–  What are the opportunities you see in financial sector and in this case what may the cooperation between our countries be like?

–   Banking sector in Georgia is one of the success examples. This is a good news but there can be more support from the United Kingdom, for example, in the course of implementation of pension reform. Besides, the London Stock Exchange can render quite some technical assistance with regard to development of stock exchange. We are expecting great results once the pension reform is completed. UK has very skilled experts with extensive experience of working in this field. They can share best practices with Georgia.

–  What can additionally be done to raise the level of awareness of British investors about Georgia?

–  I hope the government will establish special agencies in cooperation with representatives of the ministries of Finance, economy and foreign affairs. This agency should work with not only the embassy but in a broader context. The government of Georgia also sees the importance of having special representatives. This agency will also pay its role in the transition period, which accompanies BREXIT. The British Prime Minister Theresa May has already made her practical step having appointed me and this will be the step to be made by your government. 

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