On January 26, ISET hosted an Asian Development Bank (ADB) group with keynote speaker David Margonsztern, the Senior Urban Development Specialist of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). He gave a presentation entitled “The ADB’s Sustainable Transport Initiative (STI): Turning Strategies into realities”. The ADB started this project in 2010 with the priority of developing transport systems that are accessible, safe, environmentally-friendly and affordable in Asia. Mr. Margonsztern emphasized that the project is targeted to increase the share of urban transport among other means of transportation. Compared to the situation in 1970-2009, when the share of urban transport was only 2%, but after implementing the STI project, the share of urban transport increased to 18%. By 2020, the project aims to reach a 30% share for urban transport.

On December 15, 2016, Dr. Natalia Velikova, Associate Professor at Texas Tech University (TTU), held a lecture on Focus Group Discussions for the researchers of ISET-PI. Natalia is an Associate Director of the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute. Currently, she is a Fulbright scholar in Tbilisi and works on the Development of Wine Marketing and Wine Tourism Strategies for Georgia.

Natalia started her presentation by outlining the main differences between quantitative and qualitative research and suggested some criteria for choosing between these two approaches. Afterwards, she introduced Focus Group Discussions (FGD) as one of the methods used in qualitative research and listed research goals and questions to be addressed with FGDs.

On December 1, ISET hosted two economists of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), George Luarsabishvili (Economist, Georgian Resident Mission, Central and West Asia Department) and Dominik Peschel (Economist, Central and West Asia Department). Mr. Luarsabishvili gave a presentation entitled “The foreign exchange rate’s impact on the balance of payments and the financial sector”, during which he overviewed the effect of the recent currency depreciation to the balance of payment and financial stability of Georgia. In addition, the two guests outlined the effectiveness and timing of the current de-dollarization strategy implemented by the Georgian government.

At the beginning of the presentation, Mr. Luarsabishvili examined linkages between currency depreciation and current account deficit. He claimed that the lari's depreciation should make domestic production more competitive in the foreign market, increase export and improve current account. However, due to high and persistent dollarization, depreciation limits economic growth and aggravates foreign debt servicing. In this fashion, currency depreciation can be contractionary.

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