IFC, BP, Ausrian Government Launch Initiative to Improve Food Safety in Georgia

From the Editorial Board

March 23, 2010 – IFC, a member of the World bank Group, is partnering with one of the world‘s leading energy companies, BP, and its oil and gas co-ventures, and the Australian ministry of Finance to launch a new project to improve food safety practices in Georgia, boosting competitiveness, exports, investments, the economy, and public health.

Currently, food products that could be produced in Georgia, a country with rich agricultural traditions, are being imported, with imports exceeding exports by about eight fold, according to Georgian ministry of Economic Development. The lack of appropriate food safety standards in the country is one of the reasons hampering exports and one of the main issues for the free trade agreement now being negotiated with the European Union.
‘Despite great potential, economic liberalization, and recent reforms in the business environment, there is still a lot to be done to foster the development of agrinusiness in Gergia”, said Snezana Stoikovich, IFC Director for Central and Eastern Europe. “We are happy to use IFC‘s international experience and transfer best practices to stimulate broader implementation of food safety management systems, reducing food born diseases, and helping the country become a part of global food chain”.
As part of IFC-‘s regional strategy focused on agribusiness, the new IFC Georgia Food Safety Improvement Project will facilitate access to market for local food processors by increasing awareness of food safety issues and solutions, piloting implementation of a food safety management system with clients to build local consultants‘ food safety capacity, improving national food safety legislation, and building the capacity of the country‘s regulators to follow international best practice.
Neil Dunn, General Manager for BP in Georgia, said “Safety is BP‘s top priority in all our operations worldwide. We believe that the Food Safety Improvement Project, will not only increase awareness of food safety issues and bring practical solutions to Georgia‘s food processing sector, but will also develop long-term socio-economic benefits for the people of Georgia.”
IFC is the only international financial institution focused exclusively on the private sector, the engine of sustainable development in emerging markets. Along with IBRD, it is currently seeking a capital increase to strengthen its ability to create opportunity for the poor in developing countries – including by helping food producing com-
panies improve their food safety practi-
ces fostering their competitiveness.