Georgian Minister of Economic Development Mr. George Arveladze is heading a delegation of senior economists and businessmen.

[Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman]

The Georgian Minister for Economic Development, Mr. George Arveladze, is in Israel on an official visit. Minster Arveladze is the senior minister for economic affairs in his country, and is responsible for all fields of economic development, communications, transport and tourism. Mr. Arveladze is heading a delegation which includes representatives of the Georgian economic establishment and senior representatives of 16 commercial companies from Georgia.

This is Mr. Arveladze’s second visit to Israel.

The Georgian economy has been going through a phase of growth and reform since the beginning of the decade. This trend gained momentum in the spring of 2004, when Mr. Arveladze took up his position in the new government. The current average annual growth of the Georgian economy is 7%. The main engines spurring Georgian economic growth are the local manufacturing array, the communications and transportation industries, the Georgian construction industry and investment – both local and international – in the BTC oil pipeline project.

While the total amount of bilateral trade doubled last year (2006), it is still extremely small. Trade between the two countries totaled only 17.4 million dollars, consisting mainly of Israeli exports to Georgia.

The Israel-Georgia business forum convention, which is being held under the auspices of the Israel Export Institute and with the cooperation of the Georgian embassy in Israel, is the main focus of the delegation’s visit to Israel. Some two hundred Israeli businessmen are expected to participate in the convention. During the visit, Minister Arveladze and his entourage will meet with the Minister of National Infrastructures, the head of the MFA Center for International Cooperation and with senior management from the ministries of transport and tourism. During their brief visit the delegates will also tour Jerusalem and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.

Background data:

• In 2006, Israeli exports to Georgia increased by 113.3%, and reached a total of 16.25 million dollars. Exports comprised mainly electrical and hi-tech equipment (69%), transport equipment (9%), and chemical products (5.4%).

• Israeli imports from Georgia totaled 1.15 million dollars in 2006, representing an increase of 7.2%. Imports were mainly comprised of plant products and food (50%), wood products (31%), and metal products (11%). 

• Israel and Georgia have signed several bilateral economic agreements, including cooperation agreements in the spheres of tourism, science, agriculture, telecommunications and aviation. The first round of negotiations regarding a bilateral double-taxation treaty will begin next week.