A Free Trade Agreement between Georgia and EFTA was signed
Exactly 2 years after signing the DCFTA with the EU, Georgia has concluded the Free Trade Agreement (the FTA) with European Free Trade Association (EFTA) that encompasses Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Iceland.
The document was signed today in Bern within the frames of the Prime Minister's visit to the Swiss Confederation and the EFTA Ministerial by the first Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Dimitri Kumsishvili as well as Federal President of the Swiss Confederation, the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research Johann Schneider-Ammann and Ministers of the EFTA member-states.
The Prime Minister of Georgia attended the ceremony. Giorgi Kvirikashvili considered termination of the negotiations and signing of the FTA as a historic event.
"This happened exactly two years after signing an Agreement on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the EU. I would like to note that we still believe in the EU and are enthusiastic about its future.
"Georgia and the EFTA countries share a common understanding of the value and importance of free trade. It is the very principle upon which the EFTA was created. With the conviction that free trade is a means of achieving growth and prosperity, EFTA has since the 1960s been a standard bearer for international exchange", -Prime Minister indicated.
Pursuant to Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Georgia's choice of expanding free trade is much. Head of the Government indicated that Georgia celebrates this year 25 years since it regained independence. In 25 years, Georgia has achieved surprisingly much.
"This is particularly true regarding the trade sector: Georgia has a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area agreement with the EU, free trade with Turkey and the CIS countries, a preferential export regime (GSP) with the US, Canada, Japan, and we expect to sign a FTA with China by the end of this year. This means that Georgia will soon have a web of free trade deals covering more than 2 billion consumers.
We have been driven in all our actions by a firm determination to become a free, thriving and dynamic economy, which attracts investors and businesses alike. Today, we are a country with stable democratic institutions, low corruption a simplified tax system and business-friendly legislative environment. I am very proud to say that we have been ranked 9th in the world for ease of doing business by the World Bank and according to the World Economic Forum investors coming to Georgia can enjoy 24th lowest tax burden in the world. The compound annual GDP growth in the past 5 years is 4,9% and all major credit rating agencies consider us stable. Georgia, in sum, is a safe and stimulating place for foreign companies to invest.Georgia is already becoming a regional hub for doing business.
Geostrategically, we stand in a vitally important location, being at the crossroads between Asia and Europe. The revival of the modern Silk Road, in particular, makes Georgia's future as a trade, logistics and transportation hub, both certain and very promising." - Giorgi Kvirikashvili indicated.
Pursuant to the head of the Government, the FTA signed today is significant as it expands the scope of Georgia's web of free trade agreements. It is also a significant step forward for Georgia to exchange freely with some of the most advanced and free economies in the world.
"I am convinced that our bilateral relations with Switzerland, as well as other three EFTA member states will be further deepened across all sectors and that we will become partners in a much greater sense. This is already, to a large extent, the case today.
Thank you for your attention and I would like to thank the negotiating teams for the comprehensive work they provided. I am glad that the negotiations were finalized in surprisingly short terms," - Prime Minister noted.
"An instrument of further deepening relations" - Federal President of the Swiss Confederation, the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and ResearchJohann Schneider-Ammann assessed signing the FTA with these words. Pursuant to him, the negotiations were initiated in September 2015 and finalized by February 2016.
"The speed of the process as well as the quality of the negotiations is a clear indication of positive relations between our countries as well as good cooperation between the negotiating teams. Georgia and EFTA countries have already established close economic relations - there is a great potential for further expanding these links. We believe that the FTA will become a strong stimulus for development of trade and investments between the economies," - Johann Schneider-Ammann declared and thanked negotiating teams for their commitment to achieve the best results.
The FTA between Georgia and EFTA countries will enable Georgian enterprises to export their goods to a market that covers additional 14 million customers with high purchasing power without tariff and non-tariff barriers.
The agreement trade with goods and services; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; technical barriers to trade; rules of origin, trade promotion and cooperation in customs matters; investments; intellectual property rights; public procurement; competition; trade protection measures and sustainable development.