Strategic Dialogue on the Competitiveness of Georgia
Tuesday, 05 November, 2013

On October 23, 2013 ISET hosted a strategic dialogue on Georgia’s national competitiveness. Eric Livny, ISET’s Director, opened the dialog with a brief presentation of the major changes in Georgia’s competitiveness performance in the 2012/13 Global Competitiveness Report. Georgia improved from 77th to 72nd position; the country saw the largest improvement in the macroeconomic environment while doing slightly worse in the labor market, healthcare, and primary education pillars.

In the second part of the event, Mr. Livny invited a panel of experts to discuss the potential focus of next year’s National Competitiveness Report (NCR).

As was the case with last year’s NCR, which was produced by the ISET Policy Institute and disseminated at the event, the new report is also going to have a special focus on a topical issue – most likely the Georgian agricultural sector.

The panel of experts was composed of private, governmental, and non-governmental sector representatives. Simon Appleby (YFN Georgia LLC), talked about the challenges the sector currently faces, including changes to the land law and labor productivity. Oktay Ozturky (Dogan LLC) shared his opinion about the crops Georgia should plant; the necessity to develop a storage and processing industry; and potential target markets for Georgia’s agricultural products. Doug Balko, Director, Office of Economic Growth at USAID/Caucasus, suggested using the national competitiveness report framework to conduct a series of case studies on how foreign investment helps (or not) promote agricultural productivity, create jobs, and improve rural livelihoods. ISET’s Adam Pellillo proposed a focus on problems of agricultural development that are beyond the farm gate, such as linking primary producers to markets and value chains. At the same time, he emphasized the importance of putting evidence before policy.

The discussion was concluded by Pavle Mgeladze, a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA). He responded to all the comments, questions, and issues directed to the government. Mr. Mgeladze also spoke about the achievements of the ministry and the problems that are going to be addressed in the nearest future. The main point was that the MoA acknowledges all the problems posed by the private sector and is trying to deal with them in a timely manner.

ISET would like to thank all the panel and non-panel experts present at the event for their active participation in a lively discussion. More discussion on the topic is coming!