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Georgia-EU Free Trade Agreement Expected in 2009 – PM

A comprehensive so-called deep free trade agreement (FTA+) is expected to be signed between Georgia and the European Union (EU) in 2009, Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze said on December 6.

Speaking from Brussels, the prime minister told Rustavi 2 TV that he “expected progress in this regard in 2008, but we expect to eventually finalize this process by 2009.” 

Gurgenidze held talks with EU officials, including EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, in Brussels on December 6.

Gurgenidze said that Georgia already had a so-called GSP+ trade system with the EU, covering over 7,000 individual products. The new proposed free trade agreement would, however, he said, be “a significant step forward, boosting Georgia’s exports and encouraging Georgian companies.”

Meanwhile, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU Commissioner for External Relations, said after talks with Gurgenidze on December 6 that the bloc would continue to stand beside Georgia.

Although saying the official response to the anti-government demonstrations in early November was “somewhat overdone,” she said the fact that Georgia was “a young democracy” needed to be taken into consideration.

“A lot still remains to be done,” Ferrero-Waldner was quoted by Reuters as saying at a joint news conference with the Georgian prime minister. “But … we will go on trying to keep at the side of Georgia, strengthening the institutions, helping to set up what is necessary.”


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