The Ambassador of Georgia, H.E. Roland Beridze recently held a joint press conference, along with counselor Andrii Melnychenko of the Embassy of Ukraine, to highlight the Association Agreement which was signed with the European Union (EU), on 27 June 2014, by their two countries along with the Republic of Moldova.
Describing the Association Agreements as providing for a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which would significantly deepen political and economic ties between the signatories, Ambassador Beridze added it envisages a long-term perspective of closer political association and economic integration.
The Ambassador revealed that the agreement was signed on behalf of Georgia by Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili and for the EU by the President of the European Council Herman van Rompuy and the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and by the heads of state or government of individual EU member states.
Pointing out that Georgia, as a European country, completely shares the common European values enshrined in the Association Agreement, Ambassador Beridze added that by becoming a signatory to the Agreement, Georgia assumes the obligations to consolidate the rule of law, to pursue legislative reforms, to strengthen respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms and to reinforce democratic institutions.
While significantly boosting political dialogue between Georgia and the EU, and increasing the involvement of civil society, the Association Agreement is designed to gradually introduce European standards in all spheres of Georgia’s economy. It also provides for the approximation of Georgian laws with nearly 300 items of European legislation.
The new DCFTA will further Georgia’s gradual economic integration with the EU’s common market through removal of customs tariffs and quotas, as well as the harmonization of trade-related legislation, norms and regulations. The DCFTA will promote the establishment of a transparent and stable business environment that increases Georgia’s potential to attract investment, as well as stimulate economic growth and support the country’s economic development.
The Agreement sets Georgia on an irreversible path of Europeanization and represents yet another step towards full EU membership, said the ambassador, adding that an Association Agenda adopted by Georgia and the EU sets out a three year timetable (2014-2016) for effective implementation of the Association Agreement.
The Ambassador also thanked the State of Kuwait for its staunch support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and noted that several agreements have been signed between the two friendly countries. “Memorandums have been signed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are working on the establishment of Joint Commissions in several bilateral areas. We are also promoting investments in both countries through Protection of Investment and Avoidance of Double Taxation agreements. Our sincere hope is that Kuwait will soon open its embassy in Tbilisi as this will go a long way to further strengthening bilateral ties”, added the Diplomat.
Adding his thoughts on the Association Agreement counselor Melnychenko stated that Agreement is an effective tool for introducing wide ranging economic and political reforms in Ukraine. He added that while the Agreement would not see Ukraine immediately integrating into full EU membership, it nevertheless would see the introduction of European standards and way of life in all aspects of Ukrainian society.
Continuing on the theme of closer ties with the EU, the counselor noted that through tariff liberalization and above all regulatory approximation, Ukraine will be able to take advantage of new trading opportunities and easier access to the EU market. It can expect to reap the benefits of its firm commitment to a path of institutional and economic reforms. Through the Agreement Ukraine will progressively remove customs tariffs and quotas, extensively harmonize laws, norms and regulations in various trade-related sectors, and create the conditions for aligning key sectors of the Ukrainian economy to EU standards. The DCFTA will create opportunities for trade by lowering tariffs on imports.
European Commission estimates suggest that the implementation of the EU-Ukraine deal is expected to boost Ukraine's income by around €1.2 billion per year. Ukrainian exports to the EU are expected to increase by €1 billion per year. Sectors that would benefit the most are wearing apparel and textiles, food products, vegetable oil and non-ferrous metals. New market opportunities in the EU and higher production standards will spur investment, stimulate the modernization of agriculture and improve labor conditions.