The FINANCIAL — “We have to attract investments to Georgia,” Dr. Claus Hipp, Honorary Citizen of Tbilisi, President of baby food producing giant Hipp, Professor of Tbilisi Art Academy and newly appointed Chairman of the German Economic Union in Georgia, told The FINANCIAL. Tako Khelaia reflects on the biography of the German entrepreneur and the very extraordinary ties of his country with Georgia.
Dr .Claus Hipp is a well known influential person all around the world. He was named one of the best sponsors in the entire world. Hipp became an Honorary Citizen of Tbilisi in 2008 among others: Jilber Alber – Swiss Jeweller; Tariel Kutateladze – architect; Ali Isaev-Avarski – actor; Henry Pari – scientist; and Teimuraz Beridze – historian.
Choosing him as president of the Union wasn’t by accident.
Dr. Claus Hipp was awarded the Bavarian Environmental Medal in December 1996.
Dr. Claus Hipp was chosen by the environmental foundation WWF Germany and the magazine “Capital” as the “1997 Ecological Manager of the Year”.
In May 2001 Dr. Claus Hipp was awarded the Initiative Prize of the German food industry for his overall entrepreneurial contribution to the safety and quality of foodstuffs and for the protection of the environment.
For his entrepreneurial works – in particular for his commitment to ecology and sustainability – Dr. Claus Hipp was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002.
Dr. Claus Hipp was appointed to the German Federal Government’s Sustainability Council, which prepared the national sustainability strategy for the 2002 UN World Summit in Johannesburg.
He studied law and got his degree in art from the Heinrich Kropp School of painting in Munich. Since that time he has been active as a recognized international free-lance artist under the name of Nikolaus Hipp. Since adolescence he has played oboe and English horn. In 1963 he joined the family business HIPP, which he has managed since 1968 together with his brothers. Claus Hipp operates his parents’ farm near Pfaffenhofen utilizing all-natural methods.
But in 2003 his company was widely criticized because of aggressive marketing in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Central Asian Republics and Kazakhstan, the Baltics and the Balkans. “The responsibility of the industry goes hand in hand with the responsibility of the consumers. They exert major influence as a result of their purchasing decisions and the way they use the purchased products. Their responsibility is by no means less important than the industry’s responsibility,” Dr. Hipp declared during a speech on December 6, 2001.
In order to enlarge and support investments by the German companies in Georgia, German organizations decided to establish the German Economic Union in Georgia. The organization was founded in 2007. The first president of this organization was Claus Bushoff, he left his post due to official duties.
Dr. Hipp visited Georgia in 1999. He is a professor of the Georgian Art Academy. In his sincere interview with The FINANCIAL he declares that he loves Georgia very much and will be happy to take part in its economical development.
“Unfortunately the Union wasn’t really active before, we are really just starting to work now,” said Elene Jvania, representative of the German Economic Union in Georgia.
This organization has 16 members: Ankla Systems; BBS; Bode Chemie Georgia; Caparol; Deutsche Lufthansa AG; DHL; Georgia Polygraph; Hahn Weintechnik; Heidelberger Druckmaschinen; Hipp Georgia Ltd.; Kinkid; ProCredit Bank; Siemens; Silkroad Express Georgia; Volkswagen Center Tbilisi; and Woerwag Pharma.
Membership dues are EUR 640 for each member of the organization per year.
“We have to attract investments to Georgia. The members of the organizations from different German companies will try to ameliorate economic ties between Georgia and Germany. Our goal is to send much promising information abroad in order to familiarize Georgia to investors, which have no knowledge of the country,” Dr. Hipp declared
“It is important for the country to have many contacts. In view of the fact that many German companies have no information about Georgia this organization will increase the ties between Georgia and Germany,” Philipp Pott, General Manager of ProCredit Bank – which is a member of the German Economic Union In Georgia – told The FINANCIAL.
Germany in Georgian Geopolitics
Germany was the first country to recognize Georgia after its independence in 1991.
According to the Federal Foreign Office of Germany today relations are close and trusting, looking back over a tradition of nearly 200 years.
“Germany will not forget the contribution of the former Soviet Foreign Minister and later Georgian President Shevardnadze to national reunification. Conversely, Germany enjoys much sympathy and a high standing in Georgians minds,” the Federal Foreign Office of Germany says on its website.
As the coordinator of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Group of Friends of Georgia, Germany is heavily involved in efforts to settle the dispute in Abkhazia.
Within the European Union, Germany supports closer ties between Europe and Georgia and the entire region. Germany has strongly advocated including Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Following a visit to the region by the EU Minister Troika in early October 2006, ENP Action Plans were agreed upon with the three South Caucasian countries on 14 November, 2006.
The Georgian President Saakashvili visited Germany the month before the August war.
In the heat of the Georgia crisis in August, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany flew to Russia to warn about the consequences of renewed militarism. Two days later she was in Georgia, voicing support for the country’s eventual entry into NATO.
However since then Germany has not supported U.S. plans concerning Georgia’s membership in NATO.
In 2007, Germany was Georgia’s principal European trading partner, ranking fifth overall after Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. Trade was worth EUR 270.5 million, again an increase over 2006 (EUR 263.8 million). In terms of foreign direct investments, Germany ranked 12th in 2007 with investments totalling USD 56.987 million.
Germany is Georgia’s second-largest bilateral development cooperation partner after the United States. Since 1992, it has pledged some EUR 350 million, not counting German contributions to multilateral donor institutions (the EU, EBRD, IMF, WB and specialized agencies of the United Nations).
Major joint projects include support of the legal and judicial system, the introduction of a land register, the strengthening of local self-government, the rehabilitation of the water-supply and wastewater-treatment systems in the country’s third-largest city Batumi and the setting up of ProCredit Bank, now the country’s fourth-largest bank, which provides services mainly to poorer sections of the population as well as small and medium-sized enterprises.
German investors are also presented at TBC Bank, one of the largest banks in Georgia. TBC shareholders include Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft, the German Government agency for investment in private companies (10%).
Georgia sees for itself an increasingly important role as a partner in supplying energy to Europe. The German Government says that thanks to its geostrategic location, it could, in the future, become an important transit supplier of raw materials, especially natural gas and petroleum from Central Asia.
According to the Federal Foreign Office of Germany more than 3,000 Georgian students study in Germany and German is the second foreign language after Russian at some Georgian schools.
But with Georgia on its mind Russia remains one of Germany’s fastest-growing markets. According to the New York Times trade between Russia and Germany grew 25 percent to USD 49.3 billion in the first half of the year. Last year, German exports to Russia totalled USD 36 billion, more than five times the USD 6.7 billion exported from the United States to Russia.
“German businessmen not only work out of sales offices in Moscow or invest in the country’s rich oil and gas fields. They are all over – from Siberia to Yekaterinburg to St. Petersburg, with some 4,600 companies in all investing USD 13.2 billion, building factories and delivering machinery to Russians who aspire to be more than the raw-goods store for European neighbours.”
“Our top priority in 2009 will be increasing the members of the German Economic Union in Georgia and tightening up relationships with German companies which will help Georgia to attract German investors,” the German Economic Union promises.
Written By Tako Khelaia