The U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission’s Economic, Trade, and Energy Working Group met in Washington, DC, on May 4, 2015.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Kurt Tong, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia Jonathan Katz, and Executive Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Europe, Middle East & Africa Michael Lally represented the United States. First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs David Dondua and Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Mikheil Janelidze represented Georgia.
The Economic Working Group reaffirmed the strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Georgia. The United States congratulated Georgia for its significant progress in implementing reforms required by the Association Agreement with the European Union, noting this demonstrated Georgia’s continued achievements in realizing its Euro-Atlantic integration goals. The United States also expressed continued readiness to assist Georgia as it implements the Association Agreement and its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
The Working Group discussed the “Georgia 2020” economic strategy, which the United States encouraged Georgia to implement with continued private sector consultation. The Working Group also discussed bilateral cooperation in agriculture, intellectual property rights, public-private sector engagement, energy security and supply diversification, infrastructure development, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The United States welcomed Georgia’s progress in strengthening intellectual property rights enforcement, labor rights protection and inspection mechanisms, development of the competition law, and establishment of an independent competition agency.
The United States underscored its support of Georgia’s growing economic role as a regional business, trade, and logistics hub, and its contribution to the revitalization of east-west trade routes along the Silk Road to connect European and Asian markets through the South Caucasus. The participants stressed the importance of continued improvements to transportation infrastructure and increased regional cooperation to remove regulatory bottlenecks through the trade corridor. The United States confirmed its support and intent to participate in Georgia’s Silk Road Forum in October.
The United States and Georgia commended each other for progress in expert level trade discussions and agreed to continue discussing various options to strengthen trade and investment between the countries, including the possibility in the future of a free trade agreement. They welcomed announcement of the June 29 meeting of the bilateral High Level Trade and Investment Dialogue (HLTD) in Washington. The Working Group also welcomed the successful U.S. trade mission to Georgia in March of this year and noted the utility of a Georgian trade mission in parallel with the HLTD. To further the U.S.-Georgia economic partnership, the Working Group committed to take practical steps and exchange ideas on economic reforms and opportunities for cooperation in particular sectors.
The Strategic Partnership Commission is the primary mechanism for organizing and prioritizing the broad and deepening cooperation between the United States and Georgia. The Commission includes four bilateral working groups on priority areas identified in the Charter on Strategic Partnership: democracy and governance; defense and security; economics, trade, and energy; and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.