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Can Georgia Develop a Knowledge-Based Economy?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Belgian and Dutch Companies Helping Georgia Become Export-Oriented Country

Written by Mariam Papidze, The FINANCIAL

20/01/2013 23:44 (457 Day 12:02 minutes ago)



The FINANCIAL -- Chief negotiators from Georgia and EU plan to finalize negotiations on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between the EU and Georgia by the end of 2013.


This will definitely facilitate Georgia’s exports to EU Market. Georgian products, especially nuts, wine, meat and dairy products, should find their niche on the European market, so believe representatives of Georgian, Belgian and Dutch companies.

“Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), that is under negotiation between Georgia and EU is not a traditional free trade agreement but goes beyond it,” said Ambassador Konstantin Zaldastanishvili, Secretary General, EU-Georgia Business Council (EUGBC). “It covers not only trade in goods and services but also covers a regulatory framework, which is very important. If Georgia will succeed in signing this agreement it means that we will have the same rules and standards as in Europe. It will then be easier for European companies to work within a framework that is familiar to them. That will facilitate trade, export from Georgia and attract investors,” he added.

“The Georgian market is small. Investors should know that if they produce here they should be able to sell these products outside of Georgia. And if they will be able to enter European markets from Georgia then this idea will be very attractive to them. Negotiating parties are hoping to finalize negotiations on DCFTA by the end of this year, which is good. But before finalising negotiations some requirements, such as food safety, sanitary and phitosanitaty issues, will need to be met. If we want to export meat and dairy products we of course need a good quality control system in place for these products,” Zaldastanishvili added.

At the same time, the Hague Chamber of Commerce is helping Georgia to export its produce abroad. There are companies from Belgium and the Netherlands that are already prepared to import all kinds of Georgian products, according to the Chamber.

“We have Dutch companies who want to import packaging materials from Georgia,” said Paulien Dirkzwager, Director of International Trade at the Hague Chamber of Commerce. “The company representatives have already visited the Georgian companies which manufacture these kinds of products. The foreign companies are finding out if there is enough trade. After trade we will focus on investments. The Georgian side does expect to have contracts in the near future with Belgian and Dutch companies. Some of them are looking to open representation in Georgia to do business here. The sector that the majority of Dutch companies come from is the livestock sector. We know that Georgia would like to export meat to the European Union. We have the right requirements for the Georgian side to be able to export its production to European countries. We held meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture and some of the farmers in Georgia to see how they can improve conditions so as to become an export-oriented country,” she added.

“One of the companies from the Belgian side which is interested in entering Georgia is a communications and software company,” said Wouter Van Gulck, General Manager at the Federation of Belgian Chambers. “They are thinking of setting up their office in Georgia. Another company is active in manufacturing equipment for power stations or waste water plants. Georgia looks promising for five Belgian companies, visited Georgia last December. The companies, after having discovered Central and Eastern Europe, are now shifting further east, to this region,” he said.

“The business environment is right here. The risks are only market maturity, that the market is not big enough to justify investments. Language is not always easy. Georgians have a very particular language. Only the young generation is generally fine with English. So it can be a little bit difficult to find the right people for communication,” Gulck added.



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