On July 22, a regional conference, entitled 'Promoting Kvemo Kartli and Tavush Regional Economic Development' was held in Tbilisi. The conference was organized by the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) and focused on promoting cross-border territorial cooperation and the economic potential of the Kvemo Kartli (Georgia) and Tavush (Armenia) regions within the Cross-Border Economic Development (CED) Project, implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union in the framework of the Eastern Partnership Territorial Cooperation Programme (EaPTC).
Promoting cross-border cooperation on the agenda
By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Tuesday, July 26
Welcome addresses to the conference participants were delivered by Zviad Devdariani, Executive Director of CiDA, Tengiz Shergelashvili, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, Gocha Tsopurashvili, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Georgia and Aleksei Sekarev, EaPTC Team Leader.
The participants of the conference had the opportunity to discuss the findings of the Baseline Study that looked into economic conditions of the two neighboring regions, explored national regulatory frameworks, and identified specific areas and means that would support cross-border economic cooperation.
“In order to have a detailed overview of the economic situation in our target regions, we carried out a baseline study in the neighboring regions, accordingly we gave some specific recommendations to the relevant sectors of both countries. The most important finding of the study is that business have very limited access to information about cross-border cooperation opportunities. This limits their possibility to reach markets across the border and affects their production capacities,” says Nino Chitorelidze, a CED Project Manager.
Despite the lack of information about trade opportunities, study findings showed that willingness to cooperate with businesses across the border is very high in both countries. In Kvemo Kartli 69% of interviewees (33 out of 48) responded positively to the question about willingness to cooperate with Armenian counterparts, while 15% were undecided and 17% responded negatively. The latter is largely attributed to the fact that these companies have well-established operations and contacts and currently do not see value of further expanding their businesses.
Interestingly, awareness of regulations - especially related to the EU and EEU - remains low. Respondents in the Tavush region admitted that they do not have enough information on the regulatory framework existing in their sector, especially regulations existing in Georgia or the DCFTA with EU. The situation is rather better in Kvemo Kartli, where 40% of companies were positive about their knowledge on the preferential trade regimes (FTA, DCFTA, GSP) from which they can benefit.
The “Cross-Border Economic Development” project is aimed at improving the living conditions of the bordering communities in the Kvemo Kartli and Tavush regions and strengthening their cross-border potential, primarily in the field of agriculture.
CED project is implemented by the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) in partnership with the Support for Noyemberyan (SFN) and the Northern Branch of Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF).