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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.

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Apr
26

Two Cities

The New York Times ran an article about Lazika, the planned city near Zugdidi, on the Black Sea coast. It’s not the only attempt to build a new city from the scratch in the South Caucasus, as Azerbaijan has similar plans. While these plans sound like pipe dreams of overambitious and overconfident politicans and planners a few positive things can be said about Lazika. Maybe, after all it is not such a crazy idea. In particular, this quote in the New York Times caught my attention (and I have to admit, it speaks for Mr Vashadze to be open to new ideas...
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Apr
10

Thousands of Tractors

One of the recurring themes of Soviet propaganda was the tractor. Think for example of the film “Zemlya” by Alexander Dovzhenko, which features the triumphant arrival of the first tractor in a village and leaves no doubt that communism is to thank. Fast forward eighty years and this press release leaves no doubt that the President of Georgia is to thank for the arrival of 126 tractors to Georgia. The tractors will be allocated to 12 service centers across Georgia, giving small farmers access to modern agricultural equipment. It s...
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Mar
21

The Price of a Room

A recent NBER working paper by Diego Comin caught my attention. The paper explores the tourism industry in Tanzania and tries to answer a few questions. The results should be taken with a grain of salt, as the methodology appears to be less watertight than in your usual NBER working paper. The sample is rather small, the data is largely self-reported, the conclusions seem rather heroic, and the paper does not appear to be embedded in a literature. Nevertheless it is highly relevant for Georgia and her tourism industry. The paper finds that room pric...
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Mar
06

Great Trek to Georgia?

The Great Trek was a defining moment in the history of the Boer, white South African farmers of Dutch descent. In the early 19th century the Boer migrated from the Cape Colony to the interior of what is today South Africa. With the Boers having a reputation as some of the best farmers in the world, the Georgian took note. Confronted with the dire situation in the agricultural sector in 2010 the Georgian government invited the Boer to immigrate and to invest in Georgia. The hope was that the Boer, with their expertise and knowledge, will bring modern...
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Feb
21

Easy Export

Recently the Georgian National Investment Agency launched the internet portal Trade with Georgia.  This internet page aims to facilitate exports by providing information to Georgian firms on export procedures and regulations, and by providing potential foreign buyers with a database of Georgian products. The customs reforms that lowered and abolished import tariffs, and reduced bureaucratic import procedures are well-known; at the same time export procedures have also been simplified. Of course one obstacle remains: Georgia can reform its export pro...
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Feb
10

The World's Tallest Skyscraper

From Eurasianet: The Azerbaijani developer Avesta plans to stick the 1,110-meter-high (about 3,642- feet-high) building on a chain of artificial islands off Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea shore. Completion date: by 2019. The tower -- named, not surprisingly, "Tower of Azerbaijan" -- is expected to house hotels and business centers. While it is unclear whether this project will ever be realized, it certainly shows that Azerbaijan has huge ambitions. Comparisons to Dubai come to mind, as a city with attention-grabbing architectural projects. More importantly, Du...
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