Ambassador Degnan’s remarks to the media at the US-Georgia Business Council event

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Question about the event

Ambassador Degnan: I am very happy to be here for the 25th annual conference of the American Georgian Business Council. It is to honor 30 years of diplomatic relations between Georgia and the United States. We have much to celebrate as we look back on all that we have achieved together. We are also very excited about what is to come and all the work we are doing now with Georgian businesses, with our Georgian partners, with the Georgian government to continue the good work and progress that Georgia has seen in over the past 20 years. 30 years. The United States has contributed to the progress of Georgia’s economic development in various ways, but also by trying to create opportunities, create good jobs for Georgians, improve the health care system, modernize the education system and to help strengthen democratic institutions for yet the clear choice of the Georgian people for a Euro-Atlantic future.

In our view, a strong economy, a strong democracy is the best way to bring Georgia the stability, security and prosperity that the Georgian people have repeatedly said they want and that we believe the Georgian people deserve. We are therefore very pleased to see the results of collaboration and cooperation between American and Georgian businesses over the past decades, resulting in real improvements in the quality of life for many Georgians. But we don’t want to stop there. There is more work to do. There are more Georgians who deserve to have the opportunities that this progress brings. Our assistance in the United States aims to reach Georgians who are in rural areas or in small towns and villages to help them bring their good ideas to life, to help them start their businesses, to help create good jobs and opportunities for them too. We therefore look forward to the years to come and the continuation of the close partnership we have had with Georgia over the decades.

Question about direct flights and free trade between Georgia and the United States

Ambassador Degnan: I think anyone who has flown from the United States to Georgia knows how wonderful it would be to have a direct flight. This is something that has been discussed for some time. Before COVID, in particular, there was progress, and I think the discussions are resuming. The travel industry has been severely impacted by COVID. I don’t know where this discussion is and what the economics of the issue are as we look at the travel industry post COVID. It would certainly be an important bridge between the United States and Georgia. I have often said that it is sometimes difficult to convince Americans to come to Georgia for the first time because it seems so far away. But you never have trouble getting them to come back a second time after experiencing Georgian hospitality. As for the free trade agreement, that is an area for the United States Trade Representative, not the State Department. I know this is something that has been pointed out to them often, that they have considered another important bridge between the United States and Georgia. A feasibility study was carried out in 2018, so there is interest in continuing it. I think the bottom line is how quickly we could move into this, given the other things the US Trade Representative is working on right now. We continue to suggest this is worth considering as, again, we are always looking for opportunities to build on the close partnership between Georgia and the United States, and to expand the relationship we we had, to bring more American companies to Georgia, and more Georgian companies to the United States. I think it’s good for both our countries.

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