Recently, US Embassy Chargé d’Affairs Elizabeth Rood, along with representatives from other US organizations such as USAID, MCC and Peace Corps Georgia, visited the construction works of Anaklia Deep Sea Port. We caught up with her to find out what she thought.
What were your first impressions?
My first impression was surprise at how much work is already being done. That work is well underway. I was also impressed by the scale of the project and what is still to come.
What are your thoughts about Anaklia Port, Anaklia City, the Special economic zone, and the projects that influence the region and partner countries?
When we talk about Anaklia, we use terms like “visionary” and “transformational” – and for good reason. The port and special economic zone (SEZ) have the potential to completely change the economic landscape in western Georgia by creating jobs and serving as an anchor for US and other quality investment. Anaklia can also be a catalyst for change and economic growth beyond Georgia, in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Every country that lies in the east-west corridor linking Asia and Europe stands to benefit.
The importance of the project can be also seen as other US agencies are involved in the development of the project. USAID, Peace Corps Georgia, and MCC, whose representatives also visited the port with me, are partnering ADC.
Tell us more about that. Why is the Anaklia port project of interest to the US and how is it an opportunity?
This project is not just about cargo; the SEZ aims to bring a host of services that will connect east and west. We also want to help the region surrounding the SEZ take advantage of these opportunities. To do that, we are involving several different agencies to develop skills training and language skills.
USAID’s Zrda project is developing a Memorandum of Understanding with ADC to leverage $1 million in matching funds from ADC to support micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises, as well as workforce and infrastructure development targeting communities along the Administrative Boundary Line [ABL] with Abkhazia. The partnership will increase the resiliency of populations along the ABL and will also help Anaklia by building social buy-in into the port project while creating a generation of job-ready workers able to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by the port construction and operations.
MCC and MCA-Georgia are entering into an MoU with ADC now around internships and jobs for students and graduates from San Diego State University – Georgia, and intend to do the same later this summer for students and graduates from 27 new, relevant Technical and Vocation Educational Training programs that MCC has funded in five leading institutions. Our Peace Corps staff has coordinated with ADC leadership to create an action plan that will support adult English language learning in Anaklia and Zugdidi, as well as specialized support in areas such as employability training, social and corporate responsibility, and women’s empowerment.
Anaklia Port already holds investments from two major US companies – Conti Group and SSA Marine. Do you see it as an opportunity for Georgia to become an attractive business environment for leading US companies?
It could absolutely attract a variety of US companies that could provide services to the development of the port or establish a base in or near the SEZ. However, the investment potential of Georgia is still unknown to many US companies. As the country’s economy continues to grow, and as this project unfolds, it will create more and more interest in what Georgia and the east-west transit corridor offers. It is part of our role as the Embassy to make sure that US companies are able to take advantage of new opportunities, and we will certainly do whatever we can to make that happen.
17 May 2018 21:35