An interview with Chairman of the Georgian-Iranian Business Chamber Vano Mtvralashvili
How high is the interest of Iranian businessmen to invest in the economy of Georgia, andwhether it is planned to invest in any big projects?
Recently, Iranian businessmen have not made large investments in Georgia, and this is despite the fact that the number of legal entities established byIranian nationals in the country is more than by representatives of other states.
At this stage, the Iranians primarily invest in small and medium-sized businesses, for example, importIranian goods, such as chemicals and construction materials. Recently a major Iranian hypermarket “Akhrem” was opened in the outskirts of Tbilisi, where Iranian goods are sold.
GEL 1 million was invested in the opening of the facility.
Iranian companies participated in construction projects, bought agricultural land, planned investments in the energy sector, the construction of hotels, etc.
You are talking in the past time. How is the situation now? What hampers Iranian businessmenfrom investing in major projects in Georgia?
Problems really exist. As it is known, the European Union imposed sanctions against Iran, respectively, the transfer of money to Georgia is associated with big problems, transactions are not carried out. Businessmen have to transfer money from Turkey and Arab countries. It certainly complicates the conduct of business – it’s very difficult to establish a business relationship without full-scale bank transfers.
What impact will a tougher visa regime between Georgia and Iran have?
This is the second very significant problem. There was a great interest of the Iranians in Georgian tourism – we are talking about approximately 100 000 tourists a year, and it is necessary to assume that after the introduction of a full-scale visa regime, this figure will be reduced significantly.
Earlier, visas were issued at the border, and now they are issued in the consulate in Tehran. But Iran is a great country, the distance between the cities is quite large. And it is very inconvenient for tourists to travel to the capital for a visa.
What is the solution?
New consulates should be opened in Iran, otherwise, the problem will remain unsolved, and the flow of visitors to Georgia will markedly reduce.
In addition, it is necessary to introduce incentives for those truck drivers who travel on the territory of Georgia in order the visa restrictions not to prevent them to work – otherwise, Iranian business will finally abandon investing in the Georgian economy.