After 14 Years, Georgian-Turkish Economic Commission Resumes Talks on Trade Relations

The Georgian-Turkish Economic Commission, which was suspended in 2005, held a meeting after a 14-year pause in Ankara on November 19 and agreed to deepen economic cooperation.

The meeting was scheduled when Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara in late October.

The commission meeting was co-chaired by the Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan and Georgian Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Natia Turnava. The meeting ended with the signing of a protocol setting out all the main steps of bilateral socio-economic cooperation. Particular emphasis was placed on sectors such as trade, transport, logistics, energy and tourism.

Minister Pekcan said she suggested Turnava work on simplified customs procedures.

“Our goal is to prevent loss of time and money due to delays in shipping between our two countries,” Pekcan noted.

Turnava stated that the meeting was very productive and many issues were discussed in the field of business and trade. She noted that the Turkish side is successfully negotiating removing technical barriers on Georgian products of animal origin in Turkey. In addition, the Minister noted that there is significant potential to increase the volume of exports from Georgia to the EU market through the cooperation of the two countries' businesses.

“Turkey is our very important strategic economic partner, number one trade partner and one of the largest investor countries in Georgia. Also, the number of tourists from Turkey is continuously growing,” she said.

The Minister noted that at the meeting of the commission, the sides signed a protocol, according to which the cooperation will be deepened in a number of directions, most importantly in trade.

“Although Turkey is Georgia's top trade partner, the import from there is around seven times more than export from Georgia to the Turkish market and we made a decision about steps toward further liberalization of mutual trade. These steps are about tariffs and other barriers, Georgian products of animal origin and our agricultural products that may soon be seen on the Turkish market,” she said.

Turnava added that the talks also concerned simplifying trade procedures for textile, which will also promote export to the EU market.

“10-month trade statistics to the European Union show that the export of Georgian products has increased by 14% and we are happy that after the meeting of the commission, more export will be possible to Turkey as well,” she stated.

Bilateral trade between Georgia and Turkey has always been at a high level. The volume stood at $3.45 billion with Turkey exporting $2.06 billion worth of goods to Georgia and its imports from this country amounting to $1.4 billion in 2011. The trade volume climbed to $4.7 billion in 2013 and further up to $5.1 billion in 2014.

Moreover, Turkey shipped $1.3 billion worth of goods to Georgia, while its imports from the country amounted to $234 million last year and in January-September this year, Turkey’s exports to Georgia stood at nearly $1 billion, and its imports were $179 million.

There are more than 500 Turkish companies doing business in Georgia and providing jobs to around 20,000 people.

Georgia’s National Statistics Office reports that in January-October, 2019, Turkey was the 6th in the list of top trading partners in terms of export, with 5.6% share in the total exports from Georgia amounting $169,505 million.

Turkey is the top importer country in Georgia. The share of Turkish products in total imports in Georgia in January-October this year was 17. 7% with production worth $1,300,257,000. In terms of the whole trade turnover, Turkey is the top trading partner of Georgia in the mentioned period.

To note, Turkey mainly sells iron and steel pipes, petrol, as well as medicines to Georgia, while its main import items include chemical fertilizers, iron and knitted fabric products.

By Tea Mariamidze

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21 November 2019 16:45