Thursday, December 14, 2006

Multilateral Institutions in Eurasia: Competing Security and Economic Interests

Event Title: Multilateral Institutions in Eurasia: Competing Security and Economic Interests; Panel II: Economic Interests in Competitive Multilateral Environment
Sponsor: Professionals in Russian, Easter European and Eurasian Affairs (PREEA)
Location: Copley Hall Formal Lounge, Georgetown University
Date: November 13, 2006
Time: 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Approximate number of attendees: 50
Intern attending: Ava Jones

Speakers: Lisa Kaestner, Senior Economist, Strategy and Coordination Unit, Central and Eastern Europe Department, International Finance Corporation (IFC); Jackie Coolidge, Lead Investment Policy Officer, Foreign Investment Advisory Service (FIAS), the World Bank Group; Randi Levinas, Director of Policy and Programs, US-Russia Business Council; Mamuka Tsereteli, Executive Director, America-Georgia Business Council; Johannes Linn, Executive Director, Wolfensohn Center, the Brookings Institution.

Ms. Kaestner started off the discussion by describing the private sector projects she does with the International Finance Corporation. IFC helps local companies deal with corporate governance. They look at frontier markets in riskier countries such as Georgia and Armenia. Last year they invested 28.1%, or about $8 billion, in Europe and Central Asia. They provide companies with advisory services such as technical assistance. They have created 30, 000 jobs from $915 million in private investment from 160 companies.

Dr. Coolidge stated that her work with Russia involved advising the government on foreign and domestic investment. In 2001 and 2002, Russia saw several economic reforms under President Putin. One big project has been the land code reform, which encourages private ownership of land.

Ms. Levinas said that her organization is an advocacy group that focuses on problem solving and is a forum for discussion and networking. They are working on Russia’s WTO accession which involves integrating Russia into the global economic system. She stated that there is an important commercial relationship between the U.S. and Russia. Her group is focused on educating Congress about economic relations between Russia and the U.S.

According to Dr. Tsereteli, regional development is affected by Russian and Georgian relations. Russia also influences development in Ukraine and Georgia so there is little room for multilateral involvement. In his view, a bright future scenario would be one in which international collaboration would lead to solutions.

Dr. Linn started off by defining Eurasia as the political and economic space of Europe and Asia. According to Dr. Linn, there are four important issues around this region: 1) energy, 2) non-energy trade, 3) drugs, and 4) health epidemics. He concluded with the idea that integration will be one of the most important issues in the region in the next 20-30 years.

The different perspectives that the panelists presented illuminate the many projects going on in the region and the numerous approaches.

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