Keynote Speech Delivered by Irakli Kobakhidze, Prime Minister of Georgia at the Official Launch of the 57th Annual Meeting of the ADB

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m delighted to welcome you all to the 57th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank.

First and foremost, I want to extend my sincere gratitude to President Asakawa for his trust and support.I also thank the dedicated team at the Asian Development Bank for their invaluable assistance in orchestrating this exceptional event.

Today’s meeting revolves around the theme “Bridge to the Future,” providing a vital platform to delve into economic development trends, our shared objectives, future strategies and prospects for tackling regional and global challenges.

This theme aptly mirrors Georgia’s trajectory, where every decision and action we take is geared towards shaping a more prosperous, economically robust and secure future for generations to come.

Our vision is further bolstered by our strategic geographical positioning, which positions Georgia as a pivotal bridge connecting Europe and Asia. This unique location affords us the opportunity to simultaneously integrate with Europe while also embracing our heritage as one of the inheritors of the illustrious Silk Road.

As may well be aware, our strategic transport corridors are instrumental in facilitating the operation of the Middle Corridor, which has emerged as a dependable, secure and stable alternative to other routes. We remain committed to maintaining the optimal business environment for Asian enterprises and investors, ensuring ample opportunities for them to thrive and expand their presence in the region.

I take pride in highlighting that we are actively fostering opportunities not only for Georgia but also for the entire region. Throughout this process, our foremost priority has always been the well-being of the Georgian people. In this context, our significant achievement lies in maintaining fiscal and macroeconomic stability despite prevailing challenges. In the post-pandemic period, Georgia has achieved remarkable economic growth, recording double-digit figures, with a three-year average rate of 9.7%. This momentum has persisted, with economic growth reaching 7.8% in the first quarter of 2024. Notably, inflation has remained below 3% for the past year, and it hasn’t exceeded 1% for the last three quarters. Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the international rating agency Moody’s have issued positive forecasts regarding the growth trajectory of the Georgian economy, underscoring our resilience and promising prospects.

Through meticulous policy planning, we persistently enhance Georgia’s standing in international rankings, thereby attracting increased interest from institutional and private investors.

A testament to our progress is the recent “Index of Economic Freedom” (2024) by the Heritage Foundation, where Georgia proudly secured the 19th place in Europe. This accomplishment reflects our commitment to fostering an environment conducive to economic growth and investment, bolstering our nation’s appeal on the global stage.

The international rating agency Fitch has reaffirmed Georgia’s sovereign credit rating at the “BB” level, signaling stability and confidence in our economic trajectory. Moreover, the outlook for the rating remains positive, underscoring the sustained economic growth, declining inflation rates and strengthening external position. This affirmation highlights Georgia’s resilience and prudent fiscal management, further bolstering investor trust and reinforcing our position in the global financial landscape.

The International Monetary Fund’s long-term projection for the global economy with a horizon of 2030 places Georgia in the Top Three Worldwide for GDP per capita growth forecasted for the decade.

These accomplishments are the fruits of significant government efforts, underpinned by initiatives to foster peace and meticulously planned institutional reforms. The government’s steadfast commitment to advancing economic growth, eradicating poverty and enhancing the well-being of the population has been central to these achievements.

In line with our commitment to connectivity, it’s essential to underscore that this remains the cornerstone of the government’s agenda. We persistently invest in shaping Georgia into a multifaceted regional hub, leveraging the full potential of our strategic location. Particularly amid ongoing regional challenges, alternative energy sources and diversified trade transport routes are paramount for international stability, as well as energy and food security. With this strategic imperative in mind, we anticipate increased collaboration from our partners to advance pivotal projects such as the establishment of Black Sea submarine electric and fiber optic cables, as well as the enhancement of Black Sea ferry services, among others.

To bolster Georgia’s competitiveness, enhancing infrastructure stands as a paramount priority. We are actively engaged in the intensive development of east-west and south-north road networks, a strategic endeavor poised to fortify Georgia’s transit capabilities. Central to this effort are transformative projects such as the Anaklia deep-sea port and the construction of Tbilisi’s new international airport, both pivotal in augmenting Georgia’s connectivity and facilitating trade. Furthermore, recognizing the critical role of the railway sector, we have devised a comprehensive reform program aimed at modernizing and optimizing its operations. This reform is integral to the successful implementation of broader initiatives, including the overhaul of public corporations, ensuring efficiency and effectiveness across various sectors of the economy.

Our commitment to Georgia’s development underscores the recognition that in today’s interconnected world, economic progress is inseparable from collaboration with partners. I extend heartfelt gratitude to the Asian Development Bank for its unwavering support and fruitful cooperation over the years. Together, we have cultivated a diverse portfolio encompassing both sovereign and private sector initiatives. Through this collaboration, a total of 4.5 billion USD is channeled to finance critical sectors and projects, including the highways, power transmission lines, municipal infrastructure, education, health and agriculture.

I am pleased to highlight that Georgia initially joined the Asian Development Bank in 2007 as a beneficiary of the Asian Development Fund (ADF). It’s a source of pride to announce that today Georgia is transitioning to the status of a donor country within the ADF. This significant milestone underscores our unwavering commitment and determination towards Georgia’s development journey. It speaks volumes about our progress and the steadfast trajectory of advancement that Georgia continues to pursue.

Dear Friends,

Our overarching goal is to reinforce both our nation and the broader region, harnessing Georgia’s vast potential to emerge as a prominent financial, economic and commercial hub. Moreover, we aspire for Georgia to serve as a pivotal center for logistics, technology, education and services within the Black Sea region.

Our vision and endeavors to cultivate a peaceful, safe and secure future for our children remain steadfast and resolute.

We are committed to perpetuating this vision by diligently implementing necessary reforms and spearheading transformative projects aimed at building a brighter tomorrow. In this journey, we place great hopes on the continued support of the Asian Development Bank.

Thank you!”

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