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Not much hope to return to Russian market

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, March 17
Against the background of negotiations concerning Russian entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) speculation has started on the possible return of Georgian wines to the Russian market. However whether the Georgian authorities or businessmen are realistically accessing this option is unclear. Moreover Georgian officials warn businessmen not to rely greatly on this possibility as Russia’s moves can be unpredictable as always and it can change its mind without any reason any moment.

Meanwhile Russian major sanitary control authority Genady Onishenko and other officials have started talking about the possibility of Georgian alcoholic beverages returning to the Russian market provided that these products pass strict procedures and appropriate quality control.

Of course the return of Georgia’s agriculture products, wines and mineral waters to the Russian market will be a source of great stimulation for Georgian agriculture. However this fact could give Moscow extra levers to put pressure on Georgia in different situations and manipulate certain issues. Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze stated that the state is not going to interfere in businessmen's affairs whether they want to enter the Russian market or not, at the same time he shared his experience with Georgians, claiming that 70% of the Russian economy operates on bribes. No documents are ever issued in Russia until the official receives his share of the money. Therefore Vashadze advises Georgian businessmen not to trust Russian colleagues and not to invest too hurriedly in this direction.

Experts in Russian economy and policy also suggest that Georgian businessmen should be very cautious and there is no guarantee that the Russian side will not put forward some more allegations on possible health risks to the Russian population from Georgian products. WTO membership is not a guarantee for Russia’s honest behavior. The Messenger has already mentioned that both Georgia and Russia are in the UN and OSCE and, more importantly, Georgia was a CIS member when Moscow openly attacked and occupied Georgian territories.

The next session of negotiations between Georgia and Russia about WTO matters is scheduled for April. The accessibility of Georgian products on the Russian market is not a concession from Russian side at all, because if it becomes a WTO member it will do so automatically, according to the WTO charter. As for Georgia's main demand, the deployment of Georgians guards at the judicial border with Russia, the situation is still unclear.