The Hill: “Time is right for a US-Georgia Free Trade Agreement”

US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office in the White House. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza., Oct 30, 2015, Tbilisi, Georgia

An American business expert believes the time is right for a United States-Georgia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and is hoping a meeting between Georgian and US officials this week will lead to the beginning of negotiations for such a deal.

Sarah Williamson, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, penned an article for The Hill describing the benefits a US-Georgia FTA would have for both nations. Specifically, such a deal would "increase opportunities for American businesses to export to, and invest in, Georgia”.

US exports to Georgia, at $300 million in 2014, were largely concentrated in machinery and cars however there was fast expansion in others areas, such as fast-food and clothing. The energy sector also offered "sizeable” investment opportunities for US investors.

Georgia’s recent Association Agreement (AA) with the EU, particularly the DCFTA component, will give Georgia free-trade access to the EU for its goods and services. Williamson writes: "This further enhances Georgia’s attractiveness for businesses that want to gain access to the EU market and will make Georgia a more comfortable place for Western countries to set up businesses with a view to other regional markets.”

She said a US-Georgia FTA would be a strong signal of continued US support for Georgia, particularly now when the country’s ‘westernization’ was under pressure in the region.

This type of visible support is particularly important as Russia continues to pressure Western-oriented governments in the region. The U.S. alone can’t deliver NATO or EU membership. However, opening negotiations on a U.S.-Georgia FTA is a bilateral step that would be an ideal signal of support for Georgia’s Westernization agenda.”

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