Interview with Georgian ambassador to Egypt Alexander Nalbandov



Tue, 25 Apr 2017 - 09:57 GMT


Tue, 25 Apr 2017 - 09:57 GMT

Georgian ambassador to Egypt Alexander Nalbandov - Egypt Today

Georgian ambassador to Egypt Alexander Nalbandov - Egypt Today

CAIRO – 25 April 2017:Egypt Today with Georgian Ambassador Alexander Nalbandov to talk about his country's experience in establishing reform inside the state's institutions, also to express Georgia's interest in the Egyptian efforts to realize prosperity.

What is your impression about working in Egypt?

The Arab Republic of Egypt was among the first countries from the Middle East and Africa to recognize the independence of Georgia. In 2017, our countries are marking quite a significant date – the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations. Not surprisingly, Egypt was the first Arab country where Georgia opened a fully-fledged Embassy, back in 1998.

Egypt witnessed a remarkable change over the past six years, what is your opinion about such change? And how do you assess the economic reforms Egypt has adopted few months ago?

We follow quite attentively the implementation of this ambitious reform program by the Egyptian Government. It is obvious that to have the reforms in question carried out in due course, enormous efforts are to be invested.

How can Egypt benefit from the Georgian economic experience?

As you are probably aware, in Georgia we have been successfully going through a large-scale transformation process to achieve sustainable economic development, to overcome corruption, to establish friendly environment for businesses and investments, to create job opportunities and overcome poverty, etc.

Thus, we have full understanding of challenges you face on this way. As your friends, we wish that the reforms in your country are implemented in the most efficient way, to turn into a “success story” and bring prosperity to every single Egyptian.

In 2016, total number of companies registered in Georgia, with the participation of Egyptian capital, was 1.688. Among them, 1.557 enterprises were established through Egyptian investments; 55 were Egyptian-Georgian joint ventures; and 56 joint ventures were established by the Egyptian side and third countries.

Both Egypt and Georgia have considerable tourism-related experience.

The Georgian side is interested in exchanging this experience, in sharing your best practices. We believe that this could be achieved, for instance, by organizing training courses for Georgian professionals and students-oriented exchange program. We have already begun discussing these issues in more detail with our Egyptian partners. At the same time, there are very specific proposals from the Georgian side that might be of interest for the Egyptian tourism industry.

How many Georgian companies operate in Egypt?

For Georgia, Egypt is one of the most important partners.

Thus,the Georgian side welcomes any initiatives aimed at deepening relationships and expresses readiness for cooperation in the sphere of investments.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that Georgia is an investment-oriented country. Therefore, our main priority is to attract investments, first of all, foreign direct investments. With this in mind, we have created quite favorable business and investment environment, including the respective legal framework, progressive taxation system, modern bank system, preferential trade regimes with many countries, etc.

It should be particularly noted in this context that in July 2016, EU-Georgia Association Agreement entered into force, which introduces a preferential trade regime – the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). This regime increases market access between the EU and Georgia based on having better-matched regulations.

What is the trade volume between Egypt and Georgia?

Answering your question, I am pleased to mention that recently economic cooperation between our countries have developed in a quite positive way. For instance, in 2016 trade turnover between Egypt and Georgia amounted to 19 million USD, which is 129% more than in 2015. In 2016, in terms of money, Georgia’s export to Egypt significantly increased to more than15 million USD. At the same time, Georgia imported Egyptian products worth about 4 million USD.

The main export products from Georgia are: machinery and equipment for lifting and loading; cattle; components for metal cutting machines; rubber/plastic processing equipment; metal processing machines; nuts; and electric water heaters. The main goods we import from Egypt are: electric water heaters; citruses; polymer plates; washing machines; ovens; medicines; and packaging bags.

We believe that our bilateral economic cooperation may be broadened at the expense of some other available opportunities. For instance, Georgia might deliver to the Egyptian market more cattle, as well as sheep and goats; hazelnuts and walnuts; canned fruits and vegetables; fruit and vegetable juices; nitrogenous fertilizers; ferroalloys; semi-carbon steel; carbon steel rods (rebar); and even gold. On the other hand, transit potential of Georgia may be utilized to deliver Egyptian agricultural products to the regional markets, within the framework of the Green Corridor project.

Currently, preparations are underway for a regular meeting of the Egyptian-Georgian Joint Committee for Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation which is supposed to be held in Tbilisi. Most probably, the forum will take place in the autumn 2017.

We hope that this meeting will give a new impetus to the further development of our cooperation.

How many tourists come from Georgia to Egypt? Have you changed your travel advice?

Speaking about tourism, I would like to stress that Egypt is among the most popular tourist destinations for Georgians. For instance, 15.244 Georgians visited Egypt in 2015. On the other hand, in 2016 Georgia was visited by 6.328 guests from Egypt – 161% more than in the previous year.

Regrettably, for the time being, there are no direct flights between our two capitals. Good news is that Egyptian company Air Cairo has been implementing flights from Tbilisi International Airport to Sharm Al-Sheikh (since November 2014) and Hurghada (since June 2015). Since then, these flights have been operated in a regular manner (with some seasonal breaks), and a considerable number of passengers made use of these opportunities (in total, more than 41.000 in both directions in 2015).

Taking into account Egypt’s considerable tourism-related experience, the Georgian side is interested in sharing your best practices. Probably, this goal might be achieved, for instance, by organizing training courses for Georgian professionals and students-oriented exchange program. In the near future, we intend to discuss these issues in more detail with our Egyptian partners. At the same time, there are very specific proposals from the Georgian side that might be of interest for the Egyptian tourism industry.

Is there any cooperation in the field on fighting terrorism?

It goes without saying that we support every effort of entire world community aimed at fighting international terrorism. You may know that for many years Georgia is a member of anti-terrorist coalition. For years, Georgian peacekeepers have been involved in the NATO-led missions (ISAF, and subsequently RSM) in Afghanistan, as the biggest non-NATO contributor and the second biggest contributor, respectively. We are committed to further contribute to the international security and stability. In the fight against terrorism, Egypt can consider Georgia as a consistent and reliable supporter.



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