Bush remains committed to rebuilding Georgia’s economy
The Bush administration in its final days has vowed to continue support for Georgia in the aftermath of a summertime border war with Russia that has left the Black Sea country picking up the pieces of its economy.
“President Bush has pledged to help Georgia rebuild and regain its momentum so it can quickly restore its position as one of the world’s fastest growing economies,” said John J. Sullivan, U.S. deputy commerce secretary, in a speech at the U.S.-Georgia Business Summit in Tbsilisi on Monday. “I am confident that the next administration will continue this commitment.”
President Bush recently committed $1 billion in economic assistance to Georgia, which will cover three areas:
' Humanitarian aid.
' Reconstruction of damaged and destroyed infrastructure and facilities.
' Support for Georgia’s economic recovery.
Sullivan said the administration would also explore ways to increase bilateral trade and investment between the United States and Georgia. For example, the Commerce Department is pursuing a revision of the current Bilateral Investment Treaty and expansion of Georgian products eligible under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences. “This will give Georgia’s exporters improved access to American consumers,” Sullivan said.
In the past two months, Commerce has set up a Commerce Service office in Georgia, headed by Rich Steffens. Last year two-way trade between the United States and Georgia reached a modest $580 million. “There is a tremendous potential for growth in our bilateral trading relationship,” Sullivan said.
Commerce has extended its Commercial Law Development Program to Georgia. This program is designed to:
' Assist Georgian lawyers as they modernize and harmonize commercial law.
' Build the capacity of Georgia’s judiciary in commercial dispute settlement.
' Enhance Georgia’s development of intellectual property protection and technology transfer laws.
Commerce is particularly interested in helping Georgia expand its wine exports to the United States and other world markets. “This will expose more wine lovers around the world to Georgian wines and help Georgians defend the exclusive properties that make (their) wines distinctive and special,” Sullivan said. ' Chris Gillis