On October 27, President of the Republic of Abkhazia Raul Khadzhimba gave a welcome speech at the opening of the VIII Abkhazian-Russian business forum.
Dear ladies and gentlemen! Dear friends!
I am happy to welcome all participants of the eighth Abkhazian-Russian business forum in Abkhazia. Representatives of government, public organisations, business community and the academic circles of Abkhazia and Russia are present in this hall today. The participants of the forum are no less respectable than in the past few years which shows the forum’s significance.
We are very grateful and we sincerely value your interest in Abkhazia, and I am happy to emphasise this important fact.
Our country is open to constructive dialogue which aims to create relations of partnership.
We are happy to work together and implement mutually-beneficial projects, to create measures of cooperation aiming to overcome the limitations and obstacles to the deeper integration of the economic relations between Abkhazia and Russia.
Only together, by uniting our efforts, will we be able to ensure the sustained growth of the existing trade and economic relations, provide for the increase of mutual investment activity, and to discover new prospective directions of cooperation and deal with the challenges of the modern world.
The work of our today’s forum, which is considered to be one of the most important annual events in the business life of Abkhazia, aims to discuss this and other important issues.
As before, the forum provides a great opportunity for the communication between the political and economic elites of Abkhazia and the Russian Federation and, most importantly, the communication of the economic structures.
Since the first business forum of 2009, great work was done to strengthen brotherly relations between our countries.
An extensive contractual basis has been created. Along with the basic Treaty on Alliance and Strategic Partnership, 130 intergovernmental relations between the Republic of Abkhazia and the Russian Federation have been signed, which cover all spheres of interaction and cooperation.
In this period, the trade turnover between Abkhazia and Russia increased by 3.5 times, the export of Abkhazian products to the Russian market – by 3.2 times, and the share of the Russian Federation in the foreign trade turnover of the Republic of Abkhazia exceeds 70%.
We aim to export our products to the Russian market. To this aim, we are actively building greenhouse complexes, processing plants, and also by mutual efforts, we create all conditions for the promotion of Abkhazian products by their exporters.
We are happy to see that the range of products exported from our state grows. We gradually and consistently increase the added value of exported goods. Representatives of the agro-industrial sector of Abkhazia receive high awards at international forums and exhibitions.
In the field of tourism, for a number of years, our country is listed as one of the most popular holiday destinations for the citizens of Russia.
In Abkhazia, beach and cultural-educational forms of tourism are actively developing, and the oldest monuments of early Christianity serve as a solid basis for the development of religious tourism.
Companies with the participation of Russian investments are unconditional market leaders, practically in all sectors of the Abkhazian economy. For many years, the leading Russian companies such as Megafon, Rosneft and others have been successful.
Last year, a number of investment agreements were signed at this same forum, and some of them have already been implemented in full, others are at the final stage.
As I said above, we are open and interested in Russian investments. To this aim, we work consistently to create a favourable business environment and ensure the growth of business activity through the creation of a necessary regulatory and legal framework and institutions for supporting investment activities, which are a key factor in the growth of the economy.
An agreement exists between Abkhazia and Russia on the promotion and mutual protection of investments. In 2014, we adopted a new Law “On Investment Activities”, which provides targeted benefits and incentive measures for investors.
The State Investment Agency was created under the Ministry of Economy of Abkhazia, which is tasked with providing support and assistance to foreign investors.
Despite the results, we still have a lot of work to do. Taking into account the global economic trends, the competition for investments is growing every year and, in the world of the future, inefficient and uncompetitive countries or regions will have to become outsiders. We understand this very well.
In this issue, we think it is very important to adopt the best practices of Russia and the best practices from the most successful regions of Russia.
It is for this reason that from this year, we began sending civil servants from Abkhazia for internships in the most progressively developing regions of the Russian Federation.
Here, I want to say a few thanks for the fact that our Russian colleagues support us in this matter and are happy to share their experience.
An invaluable contribution to development is the financial assistance provided by the Russian Federation in order to promote the socio-economic development of the Republic of Abkhazia.
Thus, under the updated Investment Program for 2017-2019, financial assistance of more than 2.5 billion rubles is envisaged this year, and in total, this amount will be more than 5.8 billion rubles.
Due to these funds, social infrastructure facilities are being built and restored.
Yet, cooperation between our countries cannot and should not be limited to free financial contributions.
Our task is to reach a self-sufficient level of development that allows us to qualitatively improve the lives of our citizens, and we have all the prerequisites for this.
Within the framework of today’s forum, we will discuss with you a number of the most topical issues on the agenda of Abkhazian-Russian relations. These are the issues of further promotion of our trade and economic relations, the development of small and medium-sized businesses in the context of bilateral relations, cooperation in tourism, as well as a more effective cooperation of the Republic of Abkhazia with the regions of the Russian Federation and much more.
We live in a very difficult, but interesting time. The world is changing rapidly and the speed of changes is increasing every day.
There are many new ideas and discoveries that in a moment reach the entire world, projects are being implemented, the existence of which could not have been imagined several years ago.
To meet these challenges, we need wisdom and responsibility, joint search for non-standard solutions, new formats of interaction between our states and between structures that aim to assist the business community.
It is no accident that representatives of chambers of commerce and industry and other business associations traditionally take part in the work of our forums.
It is important for our forums to be always constructive and effective.
At all times, the future has been determined by persistent, purposeful and effective people. I am sure that there are a lot of them today in this room. Those who are ready, without looking at the difficulties and obstacles, transform their bold intentions, intellectual abilities and initiatives into new successful projects.
I am firmly convinced that fruitful and interesting work within the framework of today’s forum will be aimed at joint search for new ideas and agreements that will form the basis for strengthening and expanding the allied Abkhazian-Russian relations.