Issue 5, 2018. October-November


PM Lobbies for Free Trade Deal with United States

Georgia hopes to further strengthen its strong us bond with free trade agreement

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze made a case for closer security and economic relations with the United States during his trip to Washington, D.C. in September.

Bakhtadze noted Georgia has been "punching above its weight" in several areas, including military cooperation with the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Prime Minister held high-level meetings with White House officials and prominent media outlets in the U.S., including with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, and several U.S. Senators: Lindsey Graham, Roger Wicker, Bob Corker and Robert Menendez.

Call for Free Trade Agreement

Following his meeting with Pompeo, Bakhtadze underscored Russian occupation of Georgian territory and the U.S.-Georgia cooperation in "key directions."

"We touched upon all the topics of our bilateral relations. We spoke about the pressing challenges faced by Georgia and originating from the occupation of our land by the Russian Federation. We talked about the key directions with all our resources and political will to deepen our relations further [to the level of] our cooperation in the areas of security and economics.

We are very keen to conclude a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the U.S.A. and have support of our friends in this very important endeavor.

We also spoke about various aspects of the political situation in our region and role that might be played by Georgia in regional politics," Bakhtadze told journalists.

Bakhtadze repeated Georgia's interest in a free trade agreement during a sit-down interview with Fox News.

"We pushed to another level our cooperation in the field of security and military cooperation, and we have also very good economic cooperation. And we do believe that a free trade agreement can be a very good step forward," he said.

"Georgia is a gateway for eight land-locked countries [. . .] We would like to see more American companies doing business in Georgia."

At a meeting with U.S. business leaders, Bakhtadze provided an overview of Georgia's reforms and its efforts to attract investment.

"Georgia leads among other countries in terms of doing business and our wish is to see more U.S. corporate investments in the country," he said.

NATO Membership

Bakhtadze also spoke about Georgia's goal to join the NATO military alliance.

"Membership in NATO is our main priority. We are actually continually punching above our weight. Although our budget is not large, we are spending more than two percent of our GDP on our military.

Our soldiers, shoulder to shoulder [with U.S. soldiers], are fighting against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said in his interview with Fox News, adding "We are very serious about it."