ISET

Held on April 8, this discussion was a part of the four-day anti-corruption program ISET organized for a large group of students and faculty from ISET’s partner university, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) in Bergen. The expert panel included Jacques Fleury, former CEO of Borjomi LLC and JSC Château Mukhrani; Mariam Dolidze, Senior Economist at World Bank Georgia; Archil Bakuradze, Chairman of Supervisory Board at JSC Crystal Georgia; Bruno Balvanera, Resident Representative of EBRD Georgia; Giorgi Oniani, Deputy Executive Director of Transparency International Georgia; and ISET President Eric Livny, who also moderated the discussion.

The discussion started with an overview of Georgia’s emergence from the state of civil war, lawlessness and corruption, as illustrated by Jacques Fleury’s story of rebuilding Borjomi– Georgia’s leading mineral water company – in a “legal” environment in which the courts were a private business like any other. Mariam Dolidze underscored Georgia’s post-Rose Revolution achievements in business-friendly reforms, as reflected in its progress in the World Bank’s Doing Business and other international rankings. She also listed outstanding challenges such as judicial system reforms, labor qualifications, (external) market size and infrastructure. 

The recent resetting of Georgian-Iranian bilateral relations was in the focus of a seminar organized by ISET and the Austrian Institute for Caucasus Studies as part of the Vienna Forum for the Modernization of the Black Sea Region. Held on Tuesday, March 22nd, the seminar covered both historical and current – political and economic – aspects of cooperation between the two countries. The expert panel included Professor Hans-Georg Heinrich, Austrian Institute for Caucasus Studies; Prof. George Sanikidze, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at Ilia State University; Iva Khokhlov, Ernst & Young-Georgia; and ISET President Eric Livny, who also moderated the discussion.
Speakers focused on the opportunities related to Georgia’s reopening towards Iran’s investment and tourism. Georgia can offer Iran several important advantages: easier access to the EU market and infrastructure connecting Iran to the Black Sea region: sea ports, rail and road, pipelines and fiber optic. Georgia should certainly expect a sharp increase in the number of Iranian tourists following the lifting of the visa requirement for Iranian visitors. Whether or not this would be followed by foreign direct investment from Iran will depend on the quality of Georgia’s business environment, its openness to qualified Iranian labor, and access to agricultural land.

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