Thank you all for being here today to launch the Economic Prosperity Initiative. I am pleased to be joined by the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Agriculture, U.S. Ambassador John Bass, and our USAID Acting Mission Director, Joakim Parker.
Economic growth through private sector development is the most sustainable means to create jobs and poverty reduction. Georgia has already achieved significant accomplishments in economic reform and the reduction of corruption. The country is poised to experience significant economic growth by implementing and enforcing an environment that is business-friendly and protects the rights of private enterprises and business associations. Partnership between the Government of Georgia and the private sector is a critical step to improve the business environment and promote economic development.
The US Government, through the Economic Prosperity Initiative, will work with the private sector and the Government of Georgia when and where it finds political will in the government to enact changes, and a willingness of private enterprises to invest capital and effort. EPI will focus on improving policies, increasing agriculture production, and further developing the private sector.
Assistance to the private sector will focus on improving the productive capacity of enterprises, access to new markets, and overall business acumen. Assistance to the government will focus on implementing and enforcing commercial codes, regulations and policies that already reflect international best practices. The government needs to assume its role as the steward of a predictable and consistent business environment to enable domestic and foreign investment. The private sector needs to risk its capital and effort to improve productive capacity and be able to access new markets.
There are two pathways to the future for Georgia. One path leads to jobless economic growth, sporadic foreign direct investment, lack of competitive job skills, high costs to exports, and an inflow of counterfeit imports.
However, there is another path. One that will lead to continued economic growth and expanding opportunity for all Georgians. USAID can help, but Georgians must lead the way. The private sector will need to be open to new and different ways of running your businesses and farms, and you will have to invest effort and capital to improve enterprise performance and your ability to compete in domestic and international markets. The government will have to be open to changes in regulations or policies, and it will need to embrace its role to implement and enforce these new laws. This change will not occur overnight. But if the private sector and government can work together to find solutions that promote economic development and consistency and predictability in the business environment, Georgia has an even brighter future ahead.
I know we can all agree on this goal: taking Georgia's economy to the next level to create sustainable economic growth and jobs. And the U.S. will stand shoulder to shoulder with Georgia in this endeavor. The Economic Prosperity Initiative is a significant step in the right direction. Now, it's time for all of us to embrace these reforms and changes and work harder than ever to achieve success for all of Georgia.
Last updated: June 01, 2012