(Civil.Ge) — Georgia’s Economy Minister Giorgi Gakharia and China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan signed on Saturday the free trade agreement to expand bilateral trade on goods and services.
“Today is a very important and special day for Georgia in terms of developing international investments, trade and people-to-people relations. This is an agreement that elevates Georgian-Chinese relations to a whole new level,” Economy Minister Giorgi Gakharia stated.
“Georgia has a steadily growing export to China. We see a great potential in concluding free trade agreements with big economies such as China, as we believe that Georgia should become the most convenient, comfortable and attractive platform for trade between big economies,” Gakharia added.
Once the agreement takes effect (tentatively at the end of 2017 or early 2018), Georgia will apply no tariffs on 96.5 percent of products from China immediately, while 90.9 percent of Chinese imports from Georgia will be exempted from tariffs immediately and another three percent will be exempted from tariffs within five years, Xinhua news agency reported.
The two countries launched the free trade agreement negotiations in December 2015 and successfully completed it in October 2016, sealing Beijing’s first-ever first free trade agreement in the Eurasian region.
China was the fourth largest trading partner for Georgia in 2016. According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, Georgia’s trade turnover with China stood at USD 717 million in 2016 with exports increasing by 30% y/y to USD 170 million and imports down by 7% y/y to USD 547 million in 2016.