Georgia launches negotiations over EU free trade regime
02 December, 2010
Georgia launches negotiations over EU free trade regime

Georgia starts the next round of negotiation with the EU on Free Trade Agreement in the first half of 2011 and hopes that the negotiation will get through in two-three years. Georgian government assures that Georgia met all the EU demands that lay ground to open EU market door to Georgia. The EU representation office in Georgia names no exact dates as yet.
The negotiations on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with

the European Union will commence in the first half of 2011 and will expectedly be finalized in two years. Tamar Kovziridze, Head of the Group of Advisors on Foreign Affairs of the Prime Minister of Georgia reported at the sitting of Committee on European Integration on November 25, 2010.
According to her, in 2009 the EU elaborated special recommendations for Georgia, which precede commencement of the negotiations. The recommendations regard the reforms in the field of technical barriers to trade, food safety, protection of intellectual property rights and competition.   Kovziridze assures that the great share of legislation over the vital issues has been already endorsed and the rest will be submitted to the legislative body in the beginning of 2011. She believes the negotiation will be through in three years although she does not rule out to get it through even in two years. The Prime Minister of Georgia has already sent detailed description of implemented recommendations to the EU commission, Kovziridze said. 
However, part of Georgian economic analysts disagrees with this. Merab Janiashvili, Head of the Association of Young Financiers and Businessmen (AYFB), argues that none of key EU recommendations, including restoration of effective anti-trust body, statistics reform, proper labor code and food safety control, are implemented properly.  The reformed statistics service is managed by a biased board, labor code is far from perfection, and although the Free Trade and Competition Agency was reformed into the independent Competition Agency responsible to curb anti-trust activities in this past spring the body still is not effective as it lacks due legislation.
Meantime Kovziridze assures that Georgia has already worked out the comprehensive strategy to implement the EU recommendations and this strategy is already worked out and approved, and that legislation for anti-trust will be worked out soon.
The stumbling stone is that according to Georgian government, the decision-making power will be imposed not on the Competition Agency but to the Court of Tbilisi. The EU Commission raised the issue to Georgian authorities and pointed out that special attention should be paid to the proper training of Tbilisi judges in competition matters as well as to ensuring swift and effective Court procedures, a spokesperson of Delegation of the EU to Georgia informed Georgian Journal.
“Good progress has been made in different areas but efforts are still needed, in particular with regard to concrete implementation and administrative capacities. The Commission services continue the monitoring work and only they are entitled to decide when “Georgia makes sufficient progress,” he said, accentuating that strengthening of administrative capacities (in particular with regard to the new Competition Authority) will be necessary.
The EU Delegation to Georgia cannot make any prognosis of the date of either the start or completion of DCFTA negotiations.

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