Nut farmers, wine exporters and meat processors in Georgia have enjoyed a series of workshops to learn how to benefit from the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) deal.
The DCFTA deal is part of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA) signed in June 2014, which offers access to the EU market and new trading opportunities. The deal also means Georgian entrepreneurs have to comply with EU standards for the goods and services they offer.
The workshops aimed to give the answers to questions such as:
Furthermore, Georgian entrepreneurs were introduced to the use of financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and EU for purchasing relevant equipment, modernising production and improving their services.
The EBRD has provided a credit line worth €19 million under the EU4Business initiative. Thanks to EU funding, up to 15 percent of each loan taken up by a small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to finance investments to comply with DCFTA standards can be converted into a grant.
In 2014, for the first time nuts replaced wine as Georgia’s main agricultural export product. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge
It is a unique combination that will be of interest to many hazelnut farmers, explained George Managadze, Deputy Head of the Association of Hazelnut Producers, who attended one of the workshops.
Producers need to meet the relevant standards to export to the EU. This applies to everything from irrigation for young plants to conditions in the storage warehouse… [The assistance] will help each grower to apply for a loan individually and to design one technical standard, which will benefit all individual investors in our group”, Managadze said.
The EBRD will provide up to €380 million in credit lines and trade finance through local partner banks to such businesses in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The EBRD loans are supported by over €19 million of EU funds under the EU4Business Initiative.
Hazelnut farmers are just one example of entrepreneurs that can benefit from new trade arrangements with the EU. They include businesses from all economic sectors, for example textile a furniture exporters, food processors, car part wholesalers, IT companies and those in the tourism industry.
Georgia is home to more than 60,000 hazelnut growers.