Georgia and the People’s Republic of China signed a free trade agreement on 13 May 2017. The agreement was signed by the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and the Minister of Commerce of China.
The free trade agreement will contribute to the further development of trade relations, based on the principles of mutual benefit, and will bring co-operation between Georgia and China to a higher level.
Within the framework of the agreement, 94% of Georgian goods imported to China will be exempted from taxes. Besides, the agreement will open up the world’s largest market of 1,4 bln consumers for Georgia-made goods and services.
Georgia has free trade agreements signed with the EU, Turkey, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and the European Free Trade Association.
European Investment Bank (EIB) presented two new business innovation programmes at a conference in Tbilisi. The new “’DCFTA Initiative East” and “EU Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020: InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators” programmes were developed jointly with the European Commission and will boost the development of the private sector in Georgia. Around 200 representatives of business, banks, microfinance institutions, financial advisors and industry associations, as well as high-level representatives of the European Union and the Georgian Government, were present at the conference to discuss support for economic growth and employment.
The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) Initiative East aims to strengthen economic development in the countries which have signed an association agreement with the EU – namely Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – by providing financial and technical support targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the three countries.
"InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators" consists of a series of integrated and complementary financing tools and advisory services offered by the EIB Group, covering the entire value chain of research and innovation in order to support investment.
In February 2017, the European Investment Fund and ProCredit Bank JSC (Georgia) signed the first agreement for SMEs in Georgia under InnovFin. The agreement is expected to enable ProCredit to provide EUR 50 million in loans to innovative companies over the next two years.
H.E. Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, stated: "These programmes are another proof that the European Union is committed to supporting the development of Georgian SMEs. In close cooperation with the European Investment Bank, we provide tangible support to innovative businesses that seek to take advantage of the new opportunities with the EU."
30 congressmen of the United House of Representatives sent a letter to President Donald Trump commemorating the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Georgia. The letter initiated by the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Georgia, Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Gerald Connolly (D-Virginia) represents a clear example of U.S. bipartisan support for Georgia. The letter is signed by congressmen of both branches of the Congress: Republicans and Democrats.
The letter recognizes the U.S. strong commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. Besides, the Congressmen call on the President to launch negotiations on a free trade agreement with Georgia and to deepen a high-level dialogue on trade and investments. The Congressmen also urge the President to continue to support Georgia on its path of integration with NATO. The letter recognizes the strong strategic partnership between the two countries and encourages the Administration to strengthen even further this partnership.
“Over the last 25 years, Georgia has continued to develop its democratic institutions. Georgia has achieved substantial progress in both political and economic development by strengthening its institutions, reducing government regulation, fighting corruption, and simplifying its tax code. Georgia’s accomplishments are even more striking against the backdrop of continued Russian military aggression. Russia has illegally occupied twenty percent of Georgian territory since it invaded Georgia in 2008. Russian troops have continued the process of creeping annexation and frequently commit human rights violations and kidnappings throughout the occupied regions and adjacent territories” – reads the letter.
“Despite its own security challenges, Georgia plays a significant role in ensuring global security, namely in the fight against terrorism. Georgia is a committed and reliable U.S. partner, most notably manifested by serving shoulder-to-shoulder with American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. This country of less than four million people is one of the largest troop contributors to the international mission in Afghanistan, and Georgian soldiers have been killed in combat. Georgia’s military spending also exceeds two percent of its GDP, a benchmark that only five NATO member states currently meet. We ask that you continue historical U.S. support for Georgia’s bid to join NATO” – the Congressmen write in their letter to Donald Trump.
According to the letter, Georgia has a business-friendly environment and is a natural home for U.S. companies that want to do business in the wider Caucasus and Black Sea region. As a result, U.S. trade with Georgia has grown significantly over the past decade. In 2016, the U.S. exported over $324 million of goods to Georgia. We strongly encourage the Administration to make progress toward negotiations on a U.S.- Georgia Free Trade Agreement. The U.S.-Georgia High-Level Dialogue on Trade and Investment should produce a clear understanding of the commitments and obligations required for negotiations on a free trade agreement. Such an agreement would be beneficial for the U.S., Georgia, and the entire Caucasus and Central Asian region”.
“Georgia has been a reliable and strategic partner of the United States for more than 25 years. In December 2016, the Parliament of Georgia passed a bipartisan resolution affirming the U.S. as the major strategic partner and ally of Georgia. In September 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own resolution (H.Res.660), introduced by Georgia Caucus co-chairs Representatives Gerald E. Connolly and Ted Poe, expressing its unwavering support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. We reaffirm our bipartisan commitment to support Georgia and encourage the Administration to strengthen the strategic relationship. It is critical that the United States sends a strong message that we stand with Georgia, just as its people have done for us” - reads the joint letter of Republican and Democrat Congressmen to U.S. President Donald Trump.
Turkish ambassador to Georgia Zeki Levent Gümrükçü gave an exclusive interview to Starvision, The ambassador explains why this was such a bitterly-contested process and what are turkey’s plans for future in terms of moving towards the EU. “It is Turkey who is constantly choking on the doors of the EU, who is constantly asking to be able to move ahead in the membership process. We are not turning our face away from the EU. We have been given this candidate status in 2004 but since then only 4 or 6 chapters have been opened, because the EU for some political reasons is unfortunately preventing any negotiating chapters for our accession process to continue. We are trying to move ahead in the EU membership process, because we believe that to the common benefit, in the interest of both countries” – the Turkish ambassador told Starvision TV.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic is concerned over the developments in breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not recognise the so-called parliamentary elections held in Abkhazia in March 2017, neither the presidential elections and referendum in Georgia’s region of South Ossetia held in April 2017. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Senator Neale Richmond, the Irish Government spokesman on EU Affairs wrote on sluggerotoole about Ireland’s business opportunities in Georgia.
According to the Senator, in February 2017 the Embassy of Georgia in Ireland hosted a presentation on Georgia’s business and investment environment that was organized in partnership with the Irish Chamber of Commerce in Central and Eastern Europe. Besides, there is currently an exhibition focussing on the potential of Georgia as a trading and investment partner.
Neale Richmond writes that the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area – an integral part of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement increases market access between the EU and Georgia based on having better-matched regulations. The EU is the main trade partner of Georgia.
“Seen as a gateway market, Georgia has an extensive Free Trade network with other countries in the region such as Turkey, the Middle East, certain Gulf States and recently with China” – writes the Senator.
According to the senator, there is a 0% tax to attract investors to establish industries in Georgia with the operations in the regional market while the stable banking sector with no restrictions on currency convertibility or repatriation of capital and profit is attractive for many as is the tax system that is liberal and business friendly with only six low and flat taxes. Corporate tax is at 15%. Georgia has been a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) since 2000. Visa free travel from Georgia to the EU came into effect in March 2017.
Looking at the pharmaceutical, agri-food and construction sectors in particular, the Senator believes that there is huge potential for increased cooperation between Irish and Georgian enterprises directly as well as for Irish businesses to utilise Georgia’s gateway status into the region.
“Ireland supports EU initiatives to promote peace between Georgia and Russia. Ireland recognises Georgian sovereignty over the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Ireland also condemned the decision of Russia to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states” – Richmond writes.
Senator Neale Richmond discussed Georgia’s trade potential at a meeting with Charges d’Affaires of the Georgian Embassy to Ireland Giorgi Zurabashvili.
TBILISI, 28 March 2017 -world-leading satellite operator SES organized an event for partners and media - “5th Spring in Georgia”- dedicated to the 5-years successful operations on local telecommunication market.
The event was held in “Museum Café” and more than 50 guests from leading media, communication companies and other business representatives attended the celebration. Event started with official speeches that were followed by entertainment program and networking.
The event was opened with the official speeches delivered by SES and MagtiCom high-officials:
- Håkan Sjödin,Vice President Sales Nordic, Baltic and Eastern Europe at SES
- Nikoloz Davitashvili, Chief Commercial Officer at MagtiCom.
Mr. Sjödin has made a brief overview of the company, it’s main drivers, achievements and future plans.
Major notes from the speech of SES representative, Mr. Hakan Sjödin:
- SES owns 65 satellites covering 99% of the globe and world population
- SES is serving over 700 telcos, broadcasters, enterprises, governments and institutions in over 130 countries worldwide
- SES has 7,317 TV channels, from which 2,434 are HD and 34 are UHD
Following the extended meeting of the President of Georgia, H.E. Giorgi Margvelashvili and the President of the Republic of Latvia, H.E. Raimonds Vējonis, several cooperation agreements between Georgia and Latvia were signed at the Presidential Palace.
The Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Mr. Giorgi Mghebrishvili and the Minister of Interior of the Republic of Latvia, Mr. Rihards Kozlovskis have signed the agreement on border-area cooperation.
Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Director of Georgian Entrepreneurship Development Agency Mrs. Ana Kvaratskhelia and the Director of Latvian Investment and Development Agency Mr. Walter Jekabsons.
Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the President of Georgian ICT Business Council, Mr. Giorgi Shubitidze and the representative of Latvian IT Cluster, Mr. Gatis Oss.
Agreement on joint activities was signed between the Chairman of Georgian Telecommunication Association, Mr. Guram Beruashvili and the President of Latvian Telecommunications Association, Mr. Peter Smidre.
The President of Georgia: We Develop Georgia in the European Direction, in Hope That the Population, Living in the Occupied Territories, Will Also Benefit From ItWednesday, 29 March 2017 12:40
The President of Georgia, H.E. Giorgi Margvelashvili and the President of the Republic of Latvia, H.E. Raimonds Vējonis have made joint press statements, highlighted the prospects of strengthening relations between Latvia and Georgia, and expanded on the issues discussed at tete-a-tete and extended meetings.
“It is symbolic that today, when Georgia has taken another important step in the European integration process, our country is visited by the Head of the country, which has greatly supported Georgia in the process of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Here is the person, who has been supporting us throughout the years in overcoming the most difficult challenges.
Mr. President Vējonis is our truly outstanding friend and I would like to personally thank him for his firm support of Georgia.
We have discussed bilateral and multilateral cooperation, which Georgia and Latvia develop for the well-being of Georgian and Latvian people.
We have also discussed the regional cooperation between our countries. There are numerous available potentials of strengthening multilateral relations between Georgia and Latvia and they will definitely be realized. This includes strengthening cooperation in the areas of military, economics, education, science, and culture.
I would also like to underscore the special interest of our countries in the cooperation between the Black and Baltic Sea regions. Interesting projects can be implemented in this direction and I am sure that our mutual vision will lead to their implementation.
On the path of European and Euro-Atlantic integration, which our society has chosen and which is supported by our partners, we have a very clear and united vision.
In this context, the aggressive policy, carried out by our Northern neighbor is obviously a difficulty and I would like to thank Mr. President for clearly stating his position in this regard and condemning the occupation and annexation policy.
Mr. President, during these days, we have delivered a clear message to our peoples and the international community, through the present business agreements and strengthening relations between the two countries, that friendship between Georgia and Latvia is a guarantee of our countries’ and regions’ development. Thank you once again for being with us on this important occasion, to which you have a significant contribution.
I would like to stress the fact that our citizens, living in the conflict zone, obviously, will benefit from this decision. We strengthen and develop our country in the European direction, in hope that our citizens, including the ones living in the occupied territories, will benefit from it.
I believe that the European integration will provide the European ways of solving our conflicts. Solution of the conflicts that exist between us and the citizens, living in the occupied territories, should firstly be peaceful, and secondly, in accordance to the format and the tradition of the European states.
Therefore, will it be the Association Agreement or a step taken forward in the visa liberalization process, all these bring us closer to the European political culture and the solution of our conflicts within the format of this political culture. I believe that the time will come soon when we will all get through the pain and emotions and reach a united, strong, and the European vision Georgia. Through our joint efforts, we will definitely reach this vision”, - stated President Margvelashvili.
President Vējonis has congratulated Georgian population on the successful termination of the visa liberalization process and the commencement day of the visa-free regime.
“The President has already mentioned that this visit is also very symbolic because a visa-free regime for the Georgian citizens to the Schengen area enters into force today. It is a proof that a reform process of Georgia has been successful. I am confident that visa-free travel will bring Georgia closer to Europe and hope that it will have a positive impact on the Latvian and Georgian bilateral cooperation and contacts of our peoples as well. […] The Association Agreement between Georgia and the European Union have opened a door for more intensive business contacts. We are ready to continue sharing our reform experience to Georgia.
We believe that each country has a right to make independent and sovereign choices on foreign and security policy, free from external pressures. We welcome choices that Georgia has made and we continue to strongly support Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Georgia is one of the closest partners for NATO and the European Union and the instruments to deepen our relations are in place. They just need to be fully implemented. Latvia has always supported strengthening Georgia-EU relations and the main priority is to make a full use of the Association Agreement.
As the President said, Georgia is an important NATO partner and despite other immediate challenges the alliance is confronted with, Georgia stays high on our agenda and we will always support Georgia’s aspirations to join NATO. Georgian government has made a clear commitment toward Euro-Atlantic integration during the past years, a lot has been done on Georgia’s integration path. Georgia has been serving as an example for other aspirant countries with its dedication and hard work. It is important to continue this progress under the Substantial NATO-Georgian package, it will boost Georgia’s defense capacities to better provide for your security, as well as strengthen relations with NATO member countries. It will also help Georgia to prepare for Georgia’s eventual membership.
I would like to state that Latvia condemns actions aimed at undermining Georgia’s territorial integrity. The so-called parliamentary and presidential elections, as well as the so-called referendums in breakaway regions are illegal in accordance with international law and will not be recognized by the international community.
Latvia will continue to support the EU monitoring missions in Georgia and we see that these mission has a stabilizing effect in the region. I would like to reiterate that Latvia has always supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. Finally, I would like to invite the President to visit Latvia any appropriate time for the President”, - stated President Vējonis.
Georgia and the Swiss Confederation mark the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In connection with this fact, the two foreign ministers exchanged congratulation letters highlighting the close partnership between the two countries.
“The Georgian-Swiss relationship has been significantly expanded throughout the last few years and nowadays we mark a number of striking and meaningful achievements in our cooperation” – reads the letter by Mikheil Janelidze.
The Foreign Ministers pay special attention to the intensification of economic relations and people-to-people contacts.
The Swiss Foreign Minister writes in his congratulation letter that “Last Year’s signing of the Free Trade Agreement between EFTA countries and Georgia represents an important step towards closer economic relations.“ According to Didier Burkhalter, the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs: “the new Swiss Cooperation Agency for the South Caucasus region to be implemented in the years 2017-2020 will contribute to strengthening the links between the two countries and peoples”.