World Trade    WT/MIN(96)/ST/97

    11 December 1996



    Original: English


Singapore, 9-13 December 1996


Statement by H.E. Mr. Konstantine Zaldastanishvili

Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Relations

(Speaking as an Observer)

    First of all allow me on behalf of the Georgian delegation to express sincere gratitude to the Government of Singapore and the World Trade Organization for the warm welcome and the excellent organization of the first Ministerial Conference.

    Today we are witnessing the historical processes of global economic integration, when all industrial, developing and transition economies are brought together within the same agreed and enforceable international rules and disciplines constructing a universal trading system.

    Understanding the vital importance of becoming a part of this system, Georgia does not spare effort in order to create an institutional and legislative framework corresponding to international standards, to liberalize trade and to establish an open economy welcoming foreign investors and supporting private enterprises.

    Despite all the political, economic and social problems, including civil war, Georgia has managed to follow the road of stabilization, democratization and reforms, and today there are first signs that the process of economic recovery has started. Inflation has declined from over 60 per cent per month in 1994 to an average of about 3 per cent per month in 1995 and less than 2 per cent per month in 1996. Economic growth by 2.3 per cent was registered in 1995 and according to preliminary estimates will reach 14 per cent in 1996. The national monetary unit, the Lari is stable. All these modest achievements became possible thanks to the economic and structural reforms carried out by the Georgian Government and substantially supported by international financing and economic institutions and several friendly powers such as the United States, Germany, other European Union member countries, etc.

    However, our economy still faces difficult times as it tries to repair the damage of the past five years and faces directly the consequences of the shocks that have hit Georgia. Much remains to be done to overcome the energy crisis, to develop our infrastructure, transportation system, roads, communications, agriculture, industry, and last but far from being the least, is the issue of poverty. Therefore, the prospects for continued recovery and growth in the future still depend critically on the ability of the Government to consolidate and deepen economic reforms with support from the international community.

    The geopolitical and geoeconomic situation of Georgia represents a strategic space for the world trade, and it is supposed that in the near future the country will become a linking trade and transit centre in international economic relations in the directions West-East and North-South.

    In this connection, the soonest accession to the WTO will play the decisive part for the further recovery of the Georgian economy and its integration into the world trade system. This will substantially encourage the further consolidation of the reforming processes in the country.

    I would like to conclude by expressing our deep gratitude to the Government of Singapore for its excellent hospitality and to the WTO for organizing this Conference which will undoubtedly play an important role for the further evolution of the multilateral trading system.