Rumsfeld Foundation Program and Its Opportunities
The Rumsfeld Foundation’s program for Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Mongolia and Afghanistan contains countries with different political and economic systems and potential, with a focus on economic and business relations between these countries. What specific opportunities does this program provide for Georgia? Special guests have analyzed this issue for BusinessPartner.
A special business platform will be prepared to make use of the opportunities in the 100-milion large market of the South Caucasus and Central Asia. The focus will be placed on trade and tourism development between the countries, Nona Mamulashvili, founder of Caucasus Economic Institute and President of Swiss Chamber of Commerce told the TV Program BusinessPartner.
The TV program participants discussed the Rumsfeld program’s potential. The program unites the 10 countries of Central Asia and South Caucasus, including Mongolia and Afghanistan.
This program was launched 10 years ago, and it allows representatives of the participant countries to pay a 6-week visit to USA to meet US officials, representatives of private companies, media agencies and nongovernmental organizations. The last visit took place on October 1 to November 7. The participants discussed the outlook for developing economic relations between these countries. At the same time, the format placed special emphasis on establishing a free trade regime between the USA and Georgia.
“This was one of our topics, and a lot of questions were posed about this issue. The point is that Georgia, with 3.7 million residents, seems to be a less attractive market for the USA, but symbolism really matters. This is a political decision about deepening the relationship with Georgia and develop our partnership with the USA”, Nona Mamulashvili said.
During their last visit, the participants stressed that Georgia is a leading reform-minded country in the region, and it acts as a certain bridge to alleviate access to countries in Greater Asia. At this stage, the volume of trade between these 10 countries does not exceed 11 billion USD, and this 100-million market is not made good usage of, Mamulashvili stressed.
“During this 6 week period, we have seen that trade relations and tourists turnover between these countries aren’t very important. Many of these countries do not have even direct contacts, despite being neighbors. Thanks to these 6-week program, we have realized that this region has enormous potential, but this potential remains unemployed.
There is no platform to meet and talk with each other. In this case I mean business – what opportunities exist, what barriers exist, how to overcome these barriers and improve economic relations”, Nona Mamulashvili explained.
Because of these circumstances, the 10 participant countries agreed to establish a joint business platform, she noted.
“Consequently, we had the idea to establish a new business platform, where business organizations from these countries talk with each other about the available potential and opportunities, and establish tighter and a more useful, cooperation format. This platform will operate as an organization. Further details will be unveiled in the next TV program”, Nona Mamulashvili told BusinessPartner
Rusudan Mamatsashvili, Deputy Director of National Tourism Administration, says that Georgia is an example for these countries. Namely, Georgia ranks first in terms of revenues and international tourists. Kazakhstan ranks second. As for tourism potential between these countries, there are serious opportunities to expand in this direction, she pointed out.
Phenomenal growth is seen in Uzbekistan, she explained. After the beginning of direct flights, growth was at 120%. Mamatsashvili explains that the National Tourism Administration has been working to popularize Georgia’s tourism potential in the field of recreation healing.
“Our cooperation is of crucial importance for attracting attention from distant markets. We have paid visits to the USA, come up with many plans on how to arrange a joint product that would be attractive for American tourists. We desire and hope that we can appoint direct flights to the USA and tourist turnover will considerably increase”, Mamatsashvili noted.
As for the benefits the proposed business platform is expected to bring to 10 countries in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, Mamatsashvili explained that the National Tourism Administration of Georgia will actively participate in platform development, because cooperation with these countries and attracting tourists is of vital importance for Georgia. This platform creates additional opportunities in this regard, she concluded.