Central Asia

New rounds of talks regarding the bilateral cooperation between Georgia and Turkmenistan

On 30 August 2017, Ashgabat hosted the third reunion of the Joint Georgian-Turkmen Intergovernmental Comission for Economic Cooperation. This meeting brought together experts from the ministers and departments of the two countries. Taking into account both parties’ interest to improve their cooperation in the field of transport, the talks underlined the importance of developing a common route, Afghanistan – Turkmenistan – Azerbajdian – Georgia – Turkey. Also, the members of the Joint Commision mentioned the good collaboration of the two countries in the energy sector.

            This reunion comes just after another meeting that was also held in Ashgabat on 8 August 2017. The host was the Turkmen Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose officials met with the Georgian delegation led by Nikoloz Gagua, the Deputy Minister of Finance. The two sides mentioned the good collaboration in both diplomatic and political fields, talking about economic and trade relations, along with the development of strategic projects in the region. The Turkmen side expressed its intention to expand bilateral relations with the countries form the Caucasus region. Also, both Ashgabat as well as Tbilisi took into account the improvement of their bilateral relations by initiating common projects in cultural and humanitarian domains.

            At the same time, on 24 July 2017, the Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili wrote a letter to his Turkmen counterpart, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, on the occasion of celebrating 25 years of bilateral relations. According to the Turkmen government, Margvelashvili expressed his disponibility for expanding the Georgian-Turkmen partnership, declaring that bilateral relations reached a new level, built on the principle of mutual friendship and respect.

            With a GDP of 36,2 billion USD in 2016 (95,5 billion USD at purchasing power parity), the Republic of Turkmenistan is one of the biggest natural gas exporters, with the fourth largest natural gas reserves worldwide. Moreover, the country exports oil, cotton, textile fabrics and petrochemicals. Its main export partners are China, Turkey, Kazahstan, United Arab Emirates and Iran, along with countries for the EU (Italy, Poland, Hungary). The total amount of its exports reached 7544 million USD in 2016.

            At the same time, with a GDP of 14,2 billion USD in 2016 (37,2 billion USD at purchasing power parity), Georgia is mainly exporting metals, cars, and various food products (nuts, mineral water), the total value of its exports reaching 2114 million USD in 2016. Its main export partners are Russia, Turkey, China, Azerbajdian, Armenia, Ukraine, and Canada, along with several EU states (Bulgaria, Germany, Italy).

            In 2016, Turkmenistan initiated a project with the support of the World Bank, which focuses on the development of a national welfare monitoring system. The purpose of this project is to improve the administrative system regarding the collection and analysis of data, as well as the use of economic indicators for measuring poverty and the size of the middle class, including non-monetary indicators such as access to services and employment. The aim is to help develop more informed government policy.

            At the same time, the World Bank announced in 2015 the funding of a project focused on the improvement of service infrastructure and institutional capacity in order to support the touristic sector in Samtskhe-Javakheti and Mtskheta-Mtianeti regions of Georgia. Among the beneficiaries of the Third Regional Development Project is the Ananuri complex, which is one the main turistic atraction from Georgia. The proposed program of interventions will emphasize tourism and agriculture as two key pillars and drivers of economic growth. The proposed initial project will focus on supporting the tourism sector and enabling the environment for the private sector to invest in the region.

            Besides internal projects, both Turkmenistan and Georgia discuss about implementing common projects. For example, during a meeting between the Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and the Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili that took place in November 2016, the two sides discussed about the possibility of implementing new common projects in the transport sector. Thus, Berdimuhamedov announced the intention of increasing Turkmen transit through Georgia, while Margvelashvili declared that the “New Silk Road” opens new opportunities for a more intense cooperation between the two countries in the field of transport. He also underlined that his country is open to Turkmen investors and entrepreneurs.

            Moreover, the Georgian president met in Ashgabat with his Turkmen counterpart also during an official visit in December 2014. The discussion focused on continuing bilateral collaboration in the field of transport, tourism and trade. The two sides had also signed three documents for consolidating their bilateral relations: A Memorandum of Understanding in the field of transport, an agreement focused on encouraging cooperation in the tourism sector, and a document regarding the extension of trade relations.

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