Getting Georgian goods to the international market
By Ernest Petrosyan
Thursday, November 26On November 20 the Eurasia Partnership Foundation conducted a public round table forum at the Sheraton Metekhi Palace which discussed the creation of proper conditions and polices for launching negotiations on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the European Union within its European Integration programme. The purpose of the forum was to outline the technical, non-tariff barriers which prevent Georgian products accessing the European market, these largely relating to Georgia’s underdeveloped quality and standards infrastructure, and assess Georgia’s readiness to conclude a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, as envisaged by the Eastern Partnership initiative.
The forum was opened by Ketevan Vakashidze, the Country Director of Eurasia Partnership Foundation and Francois Massoulie, Acting Head of European Commission Delegation to Georgia. Various economic and quality analysts also contributed to the discussion.
“The measurement systems we introduce here should be pre-agreed and compatible with EU standards. For instance, one metre or kilogramme in Georgia should equal one metre or kilogramme in the EU countries. If Georgian companies produce paper which will not fit in any printer or fax machine no one will buy it. In this regard, there is much work to be done by both government and business,” stated Ketevan Vakashidze.
“The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement is important. It is not just another free trade agreement where you simply lower tariff barriers and try to encourage trade by this, I would call it, "first generation" measure. It is a series of prerequisites for developing trade in a consistent, sustainable and integrated way. Ultimately the objective is to create an integrated market. For Georgia this clearly means joining EU's internal market. But in order to do this Georgia should overcome technical barriers. It is not only tariffs but standards, certification, accreditation, metrology, conformity assessment issues which need to be addressed in order to achieve a level playing field," Francois Massoulie said.
"Importers and exporters, producers and consumers, can really benefit from this market. As a member of the Eastern Partnership of the EU, Georgia has now the opportunity to export its goods to the EU market. Nonetheless there are some technical barriers that hinder the export of Georgian goods to the EU zone. The main aspects of non-tariff barriers are: the absence of appropriate laboratories, and metrology standards that do not conform with European standards, and consequently mean that the products cannot obtain the certificates which will guarantee they are of the quality accepted in the EU as well as meeting EU technical standards," Massoulie added.
Speaking to The Messenger economic analyst Revaz Sakevarishvili stated that there are various nontariff barriers in place and these are the most serious obstacles preventing Georgian goods entering the European market. The most exportable Georgian goods are agricultural and other food products, but there is a distrust of Georgian goods because of the insecurity of their production, for instance, the absence of EU standardised laboratories where Georgian products can be examined. Moreover, production security legislation should have been enacted but is currently suspended, Sakevarishvili said. But soon, when this legislation is enacted, it will make Georgian producers meet the requirements and standards of EU and other international markets and thereby obtain the appropriate certificates.