Interview with Guram Akhvlediani

Sophico Sichinava

During the first hearing, the Parliament passed the law about the House of Commerce and Industry. These Unions are an important element in the development of business in Western countries, but in Georgia it became a subject of debates and severe opposition.

During the first summoning the Parliament killed the bill. The most unacceptable thing was that membership in the House of Commerce and Industry was obligatory for businessmen. The Georgian House of Commerce and Industry was even accused of corruption. The question. of what the functions of the Georgian House of Commerce and Industry are in the world and what role it plays in the development of business is certainly of great interest. Mr. Guram Akhvlediani, Chairman of the Georgian House of Commerce and Industry speaks on this matter:
– The importance and function of the House of Commerce and Industry is unclear to many people so that it becomes the subject of population and demagogy. What are the functions of these Unions in the world and what is the history of their establishment?
– In the whole world, the House of Commerce and Industry serves the aims of business and represents interests of entrepreneurs. They have a long history. The term “The House of Commerce” first appeared in 1599, in Marcel, France. It spread throughout the Western countries during the reign of Napoleon. In the second half of the 19th. century it spread all over Europe.
In all countries the establishment and functioning of the House of Commerce and Industry are based on the national traditions. These Unions are subjects of public law. Their establishment and functioning is regulated by the law. Under the laws of the mentioned countries, the House of Commerce and Industry comprises business circles on the principle of representation; its administrative organs are elective and are based on democratic principles so that each company can take part in the processing of common decision. The principle of obligatory membership makes it possible to represent all spheres of economics ? industry, trade, banks, transport, insurance, etc. The source of income for the House is membership fees and different kinds of paid service. They can establish organizations for providing business service. Moreover, f.e. in France, the Houses along with the mentioned functions are responsible for creating the necessary infrastructure with a view of business development. A number of ports, airports, large wholesale warehouses, trade centres are already under their control. F.e. in Germany a number of colleges and managers’ schools belong to the Houses. They grant licenses and give certificates to students of other educational establishments.
– Do the Houses of Commerce and Industry have to play their own role in the countries of transitional economy as f.e. Georgia.
– In the conditions of transitional economy countries as well as a class of businessmen are in the process of the development of economy. At this time, reforms are perfomed in the organs of the Government. There are great changes in the governmental structures, their work is principally concentrated on general macroeconomic issues, which, of course, is a positive side.
At the same time, in some or another way links of the Government with entrepreneurs or with small or average business gradually disappears. The state that has limited potentialities cannot manage to provide business service. All these processes are taking place in Georgia. In these conditions, special importance is attached to Georgia and its Regional Houses of Commerce and Industry for they are business organizations recognized by the world. Our principle task is to implement the function of main links between the Government and entrepreneurs. We learn and introdice systems and standards that are acceptable in the world. The national organization of bar codes “EAN Georgia” was established at the House. It is a member of international association “EAN International”. “EAN Georgia “provides a producer with registration number in the international system of UCC; it arranges exhibitions, trainings, creates an electronic catalogue of Georgian enterprises and their productions on the basis of EAN OM standards, it introduces a system of electronic database in Georgia, provides consultations on bar codes to firms and organizations.
– What could you say about the Georgian House of Commerce and Industry? How do you manage to perform all these functions?
Apart from the Georgian Houses of Commerce and Industry, there are also ten more Commerse and Industry Houses. The number of the House members makes up 8000 men. The principal function of the Georgian House of Commerce and Industry is to provide service to business and to represent interests of businessmen. The house can obtain and provide all kinds of commercial and business information to its members. Many of our businessmen established business contacts with foreign partners through our mediation. Our aim is to create necessary economic and investment climate for our businessmen.
Since 1999 the Georgian House of Commerce and Industry has been a direct member of International Commerce Committee. Thsi membership makes it possible for the House to increase the level of business service infrastructure, to obtain recommendations from the corresponding Committees of the House on the problems in Georgian economy and on business sphere.
It has the right to take part in the work of International House Commissions, General Assembly and other business meetings. At the same time, ICC membership is a concrete form of active mechanisms such as: Informational and Consultation service, agreement on foreign trade, management of arbitration matters, etc. Besides, the Georgian House of Commerce and Industry is an association member of the Black Sea area and Commerse Houses of “Suuam”countries.
We are thinking of establishing an International Arbitration Court. We have prepared all necessary materials for this purpose and we are going to put a foreigner in charge of the Arbitration Court who will live and work in Georgia and who will have a great work experience in the Arbitration Court. Under the law, the Commerce House has definite functions delegated by the Government. First of all, it is creating conditions for entrepreneurial activities. Proceeding from this, we take an active part in the development and consideration of laws on foreign Economic Relations and on other issues.