EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström today (21.03.16) visits Tbilisi, Georgia, to take stock of the implementation of the EU-Georgia Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), in place for the past 18 months. In the Georgian capital, the Commissioner will meet President Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Kvirikashvili, Foreign Minister Janelidze and Vice Prime Minister Kumsishvili, and is speaking to students and members of civil society. She is also participating in a round table meeting with representatives of Georgia’s business community.
Commissioner Malmström is also launching the EU4Business initiative, a technical and financial assistance package of EU-funded programmes worth over €62 million, focusing in part on small and medium-sized businesses’ better access to the EU market.
"Georgian business has an enormous potential to develop, especially in light of the opportunities offered by the EU Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area which gives Georgia access to a market of 500 million consumers. EU4Business brings together all the EU programmes assisting Georgia in the process of economic integration to the EU market, providing a clear sign of the EU's commitment towards small and medium-sized businesses and trade policies in Georgia," Commissioner Malmström said.
EU4Business in Georgia encompasses a technical and financial assistance package of EU-funded programmes which include assistance to Georgian small and medium-sized businesses in adaptating to EU standards and access to finance and business advice, support to the Georgian Government in trade and private sector reforms , and actions to strengthen business supporting organisations. More info about the programmes and initiatives can be found on eu4business.ge.
Commissioner Malmström is discussing the EU-Georgia Free Trade Area with students at theISET business school and think tank at the University of Tbilisi today, as well as with theEU-Georgia Business Council (EUGBC). Commissioner Malmström is also meeting a group of civil society organisations today - workers' and employers' organisations, and NGOs - advising the Georgian authorities on sustainable development issues related to trade.
In her speech to students at ISET this morning, Commissioner Malmström noted the good progress that Georgia has made in implementing the trade agreement, and in gaining access to the EU market.
"We have already seen success stories. Georgian blueberries and kiwis can now be purchased in supermarkets in the UK and in Germany. These are early but encouraging signs of the capacity of Georgian products - meeting the legal requirements to sell food in the EU is a major achievement. And these products are just the start. There is real potential for other Georgian products, like honey and fish, in the future", Malmström said.
In her speech, Malmström also stressed the need for political leaders to retain a long-term perspective in matters such as trade.
The EU-Gerogia Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, now operational for 18 months, has strengthened the trade relationship between the EU and Georgia. Today, the EU is Georgia's first export destination, receiving 29 percent of Georgian exports - an increase of 15 percent in the first year of the trade agreement. Total trade between the two amounted to over 2.5 billion euros last year.