PM lauds free trade deals with diverse states, increased wine exports in end-of-year comments

The PM stressed the country had free trade deals only with member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and Turkey in 2012. Photo: Government press office, 18 Dec 2023 - 18:10, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Monday lauded the efforts of the state authorities for ensuring free trade agreements with a diverse range of states, while also commending increased wine exports and expanding internet coverage within the country. 

In his end-of-year report summarising the work of his Government, the PM stressed the country had free trade deals only with member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and Turkey in 2012, before the Georgian Dream Government took office, and contrasted the partnerships with deals now in place with European Union states, China, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. 

The PM stressed 87 percent of Georgia's exports were currently flowing to nations with free trade frameworks and representing 2.3 billion consumers worldwide.

Reflecting on the “transformative growth", the PM emphasised "today we have free trade with the EU, marking a remarkable 6.5-fold increase in market volume”, and added the “significant deals” had provided “unique opportunities” for the domestic business sector. 

He further noted the recently signed free trade agreement with the UAE had opened up an additional market of 10 million consumers, before pointing to ongoing negotiations with South Korea and Israel and describing Georgia as a “sole country” throughout the region that enjoyed simultaneous agreements with Europe and China.

In comments on wine exports, the PM said the figures had surged by 290 percent since 2012, witnessing an increase of $187 million over the past 11 years. 

He further noted 40 wineries had operated across the country in 2012, compared to 2,500 under the current authorities. 

Georgia has exported agro-food products worth $1.3 billion in the first 11 months of this year, marking a 16 percent increase from the previous year”, Garibashvili said. He contrasted the 2012 number of $465 million in export products with $838 million in the same period of 2023, reflecting a “remarkable” 180 percent increase.

The Government head noted wine exports to the EU had increased by 130 percent since the activation of the free trade deal in 2016. 

The PM further pointed out production of nuts was also developing, with the Government allocating ₾21 million ($8 mln) to farmers this year, with 70 percent of exports made in the EU. 

In remarks on projects launched in support of farmers, the PM said the area of irrigated lands had reached 163,000 hectares over the past 11 years, up from 45,000 in 2012. 

In comments on domestic internet coverage, the head of the Government said the number of broadband Internet subscribers had exceeded one million last year, from 400,000 in 2012, marking a 160 percent increase. 

He added the Government had spent ₾53 million ($19 mln) on related projects over the past three years, with up to 800 km of fibre optic networks built, and added a total of ₾56 million ($21 mln) would be spent for ensuring fibre optic internet access across the country.