Following is the text of a joint statement by the United States and Georgia following their meetings during the week of December 17, 2012.
The U.S. Department of State hosted meetings of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission (SPC) working groups on Economic, Energy, and Trade on December 17, and People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges on December 18, to review progress on goals set at the plenary session of the SPC in June in Batumi.
The Economic, Energy, and Trade Working Group noted discussion on next steps to advance the High-Level Dialogue on Trade and Investment, which the Presidents of both countries agreed in January 2012 should explore how we can continue to strengthen trade relations between our two countries, including the possibility of a free trade agreement. This dialogue is a win-win for the United States and Georgia as we continue to identify opportunities for businesses to invest in Georgia, and for both countries to sell goods and services to each other. The Economic Working Group discussed cooperation in bilateral trade and investment, agriculture, intellectual property rights, energy security and supply diversification, infrastructure development, and regional economic integration. The participants also discussed Georgia’s efforts to support a secure, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan, including through its contributions as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and the initiative to become an East-West transportation hub along the "New Silk Road."
The People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges Working Group discussed ways Georgia can reach out to the people of its occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions, and U.S. and international efforts to support people-to-people engagement in the occupied territories. The group also discussed promoting greater cooperation in the areas of educational and cultural exchanges, English language education, science, public health research collaboration, and cooperation on consular issues. In addition, participants discussed recent progress on Georgia's second compact proposal to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The Strategic Partnership Commission will remain the primary mechanism for organizing and prioritizing the broad and deepening cooperation between the United States and Georgia.