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Deepened Georgia, Korea cooperation offers new grounds in post-COVID era’

Alexander Khvtisiashvili, Georgian deputy foreign minister, speaks during a recent interview with The Korea Herald at the Embassy of Georgia in Itaewon, Seoul, on Sept. 29. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Alexander Khvtisiashvili, Georgian deputy foreign minister, speaks during a recent interview with The Korea Herald at the Embassy of Georgia in Itaewon, Seoul, on Sept. 29. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
South Korea and Georgia are significant strategic partners, with great potential for furthering cooperation in trade, technology and cultural exchange, says Alexander Khvtisiashvili, Georgian deputy foreign minister.

He said deepened bilateral cooperation could achieve new grounds in the post-COVID-19 era.

According to Khvtisiashvili, Georgia’s geopolitical location between the East and West makes the country a corridor of trade, capital, human and natural resources, adding that Korea-Georgia trade pacts and joint ventures would help foster trade with European and Asian countries, and neighbors in the regions.

Khvtisiashvili urged Korean companies to magnify businesses in Georgia and participate in various projects.

“Georgia has several industrial zones, flat land, easy legislation, relatively cheap labor force that can be used by Korean companies to assemble and access large markets,” he said.

“The outcomes would benefit Georgia, Korea and countries getting final products,” he added.

Khvtisiashvili went onto emphasize the advantages Georgia offers, saying that his country is ranked seventh among 190 countries by the World Bank in ease of doing business. He highlighted that its corruption free business environment, simplified approval procedures, flexible taxation system, business incentives, support skills and international trade agreements with neighboring countries except Balkan states, make it a business-friendly nation and a safe haven for corporations.

Ease of doing business aside, the country’s rich history and culture also make it a great place to travel to, Khvtisiashvili said.

Georgia’s popularity as a holiday destination for Koreans has been growing, with the number of Korean visitors growing from 1,000 in 2012 to 17,000 in 2019, Khvtisiashvili said.

“Georgia is a god-gifted place with diverse varieties of cuisine, high mountains, hiking, ski, wine tourism, pilgrimage, religious freedom and a five-hour drive from border to border, Georgia is a unique place in the world with quality services of hospitality,” he said.

Looking forward, he underlined a need to discuss an action plan to strengthen cultural, political, economic cooperation and high-level exchanges ahead of the 30th anniversary of the two countries’ established diplomatic relations in 2022.

“Apart from pop music, Georgia and Korean can enhance cooperation in sports, traditional and folk music,” he said.

The deputy minister also expressed gratitude toward Korea’s support to Georgia during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“The outbreak was uncertain, however, timely supply and information, test, medicine, mask, cooperation with Korean institutions, and regular webinars on coping (with) COVID-19 helped Georgia deal with the outbreak effectively,” said the minister, who is also a member of Georgian state coordination council on the COVID-19 response.

He cited an example of how Korea was able to lead by example, pointing to how it was able to safely hold a parliamentary election in 2020 amid the global pandemic. It offered encouragement to the rest of the world and Georgia, who held their own municipal elections on Saturday.

“Georgia and Korea is facing fourth wave of COVID-19, however information exchanges are further deepening the bilateral cooperation,” he said in closing the interview.

By Sanjay Kumar (sanjaykumar@heraldcorp.com)
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