US – Georgia Free Trade Agreement Paramount

US congressmen, Peter Roskam and David Price are urging US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to start negotiations with Georgia on a free trade regime.

"As strong supporters of our bilateral relationship between the United States and the Republic of Georgia, we write this letter to you to strongly consider initiating bilateral trade agreement negotiations with Georgia,” reads the letter the congressmen sent to Lighthizer on June 26.

The letter emphasizes Georgia’s key position between Iran, Turkey and Russia and its position as a gateway to the countries of Central Asia.

"Georgia's critical location between Iran, Turkey, and Russia makes it an attractive partner for a mutually beneficial free trade agreement. Georgia is a gateway to eight landlocked Central Asian countries, with a combined market size of 120 million people and a combined economy of $300 billion. It is also serves as an alternative energy supply route from Asia to Europe. Increased trade with Georgia may also provide unique opportunities for the US to increase its economic presence and influence in the South Caucasus and Central Asia,” the congressmen wrote.

In this letter, the congressmen highlight the recent economic reforms that Georgia has implemented in order to create a better environment for investors. In their words, deepening economic integration between the US and Georgia would further increase peace, stability and economic development in the region.

"At a time of negative regional economic pressures caused by an increase in Russian aggression through disruptive economic and trade practices, a trade deal between the United States and Georgia has never been more important... Given the economic and geostrategic importance of the American-Georgian relationship, we once again strongly encourage you to launch negotiations fora bilateral trade agreement.”

A study carried out by international consultancy company PWC at the request of the Georgian government, notes that a free trade agreement between Georgia and the US would significantly increase the export value of both parties, promoting investments and facilitating the creation of new jobs.

Georgia’s former Economy Minister Dimitry Kumsishvili introduced the study results to the US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Louis Ross back in May and raised the issue of establishing a free trade regime between Georgia and the US.

The Speaker of Georgian Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze, met with the Co-Chairs of the US Congress Democratic Partnership, Peter Roskam and David Price. The parties discussed the bipartisan letter initiated by Roskam and Price addressing the US trade representative to sign a free trade agreement with Georgia. The Speaker thanked the Congressmen for supporting Georgia and initiating free trade agreement. As Mr. Kobakhidze commented to media, free trade agreement with USA will serve the important message that US is the strong supporter and partner for Georgia.

“We had an interesting meeting with the Congressmen Peter Roskam and David Price. We expressed our gratitude to the congressmen for supporting Georgia and for the initiative related to signing a free trade agreement with Georgia. They issued the respective letter addressed to the US Trade Representative. A free trade agreement with the US is paramount for Georgia in both economic and political terms. It will serve as a strong message to Georgia and to the global community that the US is a strong supporter and partner for Georgia,” said Kobakhidze.

According to Congressman Price, Congress will further cooperate with and support Georgia. “We want to continue our relations… Trade is the pillar of this policy. We have to work to overcome the barriers and we hope to be effective,” he said.

By Shawn Wayne

28 June 2018 20:20