The UAE delegation during a meeting with Georgian officials in Tbilisi. WAM
Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, led on Friday a UAE delegation of more than 30 business leaders on a visit to the Republic of Georgia, during which they participated in the first ever UAE-Georgia Business Forum in Tbilisi to promote bilateral investment and trade opportunities and private-sector collaboration.
The forum was inaugurated by Dr Al Zeyoudi and Levan Davichihvili, Georgia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, and attended by senior officials and leading representatives of the business communities in both countries.
Addressing the Forum, Dr Al Zeyoudi heralded the new chapter in the countries’ relationship and pointed to greater trade and investment flows that both sides can now look forward to.
“Over the last six months, the UAE and Georgia have been committed to pursuing a deeper, stronger partnership, to accelerate bilateral trade, boost investment and develop opportunities in priority sectors such as artificial intelligence, agriculture, tourism, transportation, energy and climate change. We have certainly laid strong foundations, sharing non-oil bilateral trade of Dhs1.7 billion ($468 million) in 2022, which is 110 per cent more than 2021.
It is now important we create a platform for private-sector collaboration, in particular to enable startups and entrepreneurs to benefit from new markets.” He highlighted the UAE’s beneficial investment climate that can offer Georgian enterprises a supportive ecosystem as well as unrivalled global connectivity to enable them to scale and expand.
He highlighted the Ministry’s NextGenFDI initiative, which is offering a package of market-entry incentives - including fast-track businesses licensing, bulk visa issuance and access to banking - to companies operating in new economic sectors such as advanced technology, artificial intelligence, robotics and fintech.
On the sidelines of the UAE-Georgia Business Forum, Dr Al Zeyoudi met with a number of ministers and officials in the Georgian government, beginning with a bilateral meeting with Davichihvili and Ilia Darsiashvili, Georgia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. The two sides discussed the roadmap for the CEPA and pressed for more joint economic and commercial cooperation.
Al Zeyoudi also held discussions with Ottar Shamioga, Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, to discuss food security and renewable energy projects, and Irakli Karsiladze, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, to pursue investment opportunities in logistics and energy.
In addition to Dr Al Zeyoudi, the UAE delegation to Georgia included Ahmed Ibrahim Al Nuaimi, UAE Ambassador to the Republic of Georgia; Rashid Abdul Karim Al Balushi, Under-Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED); Juma Muhammad Al Kait, Assistant Under-Secretary for International Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Economy; Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Jamal Jarwan, Secretary-General of the Emirates Council for Investors Abroad, and a number of representatives of federal and local government agencies, businessmen and the private sector.
Earlier, Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi and Levan Davitashvili signed a joint statement confirming the successful conclusion of negotiations towards the UAE-Georgia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which lays the foundation for deeper, stronger and more integrated economic relations between the two nations.
The signing took place in Georgia’s capital Tblisi during a UAE delegation’s visit to the country.
Once implemented, the CEPA will enhance and diversify bilateral trade and economic relations by eliminating or significantly reducing tariffs, removing non-tariff barriers and promoting trade in goods, services and investment.
The deal comes amid rapidly advancing trade and investment ties between the UAE and Georgia. In 2022, bilateral non-oil trade was worth $468 million, representing an impressive 110 percent growth compared to 2021. The UAE now accounts for more than 63 percent of the total volume of Georgia’s trade with Arab countries, while its investments into Georgia represent 5 percent of its total FDI, making the UAE Georgia’s sixth-largest global investor.
Commenting on the agreement, Dr Al Zeyoudi said, “The successful conclusion of negotiations with Georgia represents another huge stride forward in our foreign trade agenda and signals our ambition to build a truly global network of trade partners in strategically important parts of the world. Georgia is an economy based on free-market principles that holds considerable promise for our exporters and investors, and we look forward to developing opportunities in priority sectors such as agriculture, transportation, tourism, renewable energy and digital trade.”