EFTA-Georgia: Trade Promotion Seminar


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Web article, 10.06.2018

The EFTA Secretariat, in cooperation with the Georgian-Swiss Business Association (GSBA), the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, held an “EFTA-Georgia: Trade Promotion Seminar” on 7 June  in Tbilisi.

EFTA expert presents technical information on Rules of Origin to Georgian counterparts
The EFTA experts focused on possibilities with regard to exportation to the EFTA States © GSBA

The EFTA Secretariat, in cooperation with the Georgian-Swiss Business Association (GSBA), the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, held an “EFTA-Georgia: Trade Promotion Seminar” on 7 June  in Tbilisi.

The seminar brought together experts from the EFTA countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein) as well as representatives of Georgia´s private and public sectors to focus on the opportunities offered under the EFTA-Georgia Free Trade Agreement. The Agreement was signed between Georgia and the EFTA countries in June 2016. It entered into force for Georgia, Norway and Iceland in September 2017 and for Switzerland and Lichtenstein in May 2018.

The Seminar included a panel discussion where several Georgian companies with firsthand experience of trade with Switzerland were given floor to share their practical knowledge with the attendees.

Deputy Head of the Mission addresses the participants
Deputy Head of the Mission Alvaro Borghi addressed the participants on behalf of the EFTA States © GSBA

“We have facilitated the organisation of such a seminar with the participation of EFTA experts to help the private and public sectors of Georgia to better understand the terms and conditions of the Free Trade Agreement signed with the EFTA States,” said Alvaro Borghi, Deputy Head of the Mission of the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia. “The Agreement improved the framework conditions and now it is time for the private sector to take this opportunity and benefit from it.”

The discussions concentrated on the following issues: customs issues (rules of origin; verification / enforcement procedures); non-tariff measures (technical standards; sanitary and phytosanitary measures); trade in agricultural products in the EFTA States and treatment in EFTA Free Trade Agreements. Furthermore, the experts from the EFTA Member States introduced possibilities with regard to exportation to the EFTA States.

“It takes some time to enter these markets, but when you are in these markets and deliver good products, then you have a real chance at economic growth. It is difficult to compete for such small nation like Georgia, but when you diversify with niche markets, there is a real chance of success,” said EFTA expert Roger Hafner.

There was a great interest in the new agreement and the seminar was well attended, with over 100 participants from the private and public sectors.

With a combined population of around 13 million, and a combined GDP of USD 1.2 trillion, the EFTA States are the world’s 9th largest merchandise trader and the 5th largest trader in commercial services, as well as significant actors in the area of foreign direct investment.

In 2017, EFTA’s exports to Georgia amount to USD 60 mln. and exports from Georgia to the EFTA countries reached USD 73 million. EFTA’s key exports to Georgia were pharmaceuticals, fish and watches, while EFTA’s imports were mainly gold, textile and hazelnuts.

 

Summary of the EFTA Conference