The FINANCIAL -- The Georgian Swiss Business Association continues to promote the development of commercial relations between Georgia and Switzerland.
The Association promotes its goals by establishing relations with key policy makers and relevant governmental institutions in both Georgia and Switzerland on subjects of interest to its members and most importantly, provides an ongoing platform for members of the Swiss Business community to gather to share knowledge, experiences, problems and solutions.
This year the Georgian Swiss Business Association supported the most influential business awards ceremony in Georgia – Golden Brand Awards “as we believe that such awards are vital for Georgian entrepreneurs,” said President of the Georgian Swiss Business Association, Nona Mamulashvili.
“Promoting successful Georgian companies and sharing their experiences with the wider business community, supports expanding companies’ operations and strengthens their performances, which itself creates a positive impact on the Georgian economy,” she added.
Q. The Georgian Swiss Business Association promotes trade and economic relations between Georgia and Switzerland. Could you please tell us what the current trade and economic relations are between these countries, and how much the trade turnover amounts are as of May 2018?
A. Switzerland and Georgia are developing their economic and trade relations and the trend seems to be increasing annually. Switzerland’s chief exports to Georgia are currently pharmaceutical products (52%), timepieces (11%), and optical and medical instruments (7%). The country’s major imports from Georgia are textiles, clothing and gold materials. According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, in the first quarter of 2018, Georgia exported USD 17 million of gold unwrought or in semi-manufactured forms.
It is important to underline that within the EFTA Georgia Free Trade Agreement, Georgian exports will receive preferential treatment that will lead to the increase in trade volume in terms of goods and services, as well as to an improvement of the quality of exchanged products.
Q. How many Swiss companies operate in Georgia and how have their numbers increased year on year?
A. Currently, up to 40 Swiss companies operate in Georgia, though we see increasing interest from Swiss investors to expand their businesses in Georgia, especially since the EFTA Free Trade Agreement has entered into force. The FTA between Georgia and EFTA countries creates a unique opportunity for Georgian entrepreneurs to export their goods to a market that covers an additional 14 million customers with high purchasing power without tariff and non-tariff barriers.
Q. How favourable is Georgia’s business environment in general and especially for Swiss business society?
A. During recent years, Georgia has undertaken a number of institutional reforms aimed at modernising the economy and improving the business environment. By implementing extensive reforms to offer investors a liberal tax system and a more business-friendly environment, Georgia has illustrated its commitment to opening its doors to the international investor community.
Today, stable economic development; liberal and free market oriented economic policy; only six flat taxes and reduced tax rates; significantly decreased number of licenses and permissions; significantly simplified administrative procedures; preferential trade regimes with foreign countries including the EFTA States and the EU; advantageous geographic location; and a well developed, skilled and competitive workforce all present a solid ground for successful business in Georgia.
Q. What is the Association’s strategy, projects and planned activities for the upcoming months?
A. On 7 June, the Georgian Swiss Business Association in cooperation with the EFTA Secretariat and the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia organised the ‘EFTA-Georgia: Trade Promotion Seminar’. The event was also supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.
The Seminar gathered up to 100 representatives from the private and public sector, diplomatic community, business associations, research institutions, NGOs, who had an opportunity to listen and interact with the EFTA Secretariat’s experts.
The Seminar covered key and practical issues, including: a general overview of the EFTA- Georgia Free Trade Agreement and its benefits; Customs issues – Rules of origin; Verification/enforcement procedures; Non-tariff measures: Technical standards (TBT); Sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS); Trade in agricultural products in the EFTA States and treatment in EFTA Free Trade Agreements. The EFTA Secretariat’s experts guided the attendees on how to export to EFTA countries. The Seminar also included a panel discussion, where private sector representatives had a chance to get acquainted with examples of successful Georgian businesses on the Swiss market.
Furthermore, GSBA plans to organise a Georgia-Switzerland Round Table in Zurich at the end of October. The Georgia-Switzerland Business Round Table will bring together Representatives of the public and private sector, as well as from representatives of the diplomatic community and the chambers of commerce in order to discuss key developments to facilitate and accelerate the growing trade volumes that we can expect from the positive impact of the EFTA Free Trade Agreement.
Topics of discussion are to include: The EFTA-Georgia Free Trade Agreement: Practical Consequences and Business Benefits for Companies from EFTA & Georgia; Investment Climate & New Opportunities for Local and Foreign SMEs in Georgia; Sectors: Agricultural & Food Processing; Wine Industry; Infrastructure-Transportation hubs; Transit hubs; Ports and Railway; Energy Sector; Banking & Financial Services; New Technologies; Tourism/Hospitality. On the second day of the forum, GSBA will organize B2B meetings between Georgian and Swiss companies.
On 12-13 July, the National Intellectual Property Centre of Georgia Sakpatenti in cooperation with WIPO and GSBA is organising the 4th International Conference – “Georgia Against Counterfeiting and Piracy” in Batumi.
The 4th International Conference – “Georgia Against Counterfeiting and Piracy”, will cover recent developments of IP protection systems in Georgia and IPR enforcement mechanisms, counterfeiting in the health industry, and recent developments in artificial intelligence and its protection mechanisms. The conference will be accompanied by workshops where delegates will have an opportunity to receive detailed information on a calculation of damages in IPR infringement, border measures, parallel import, proper branding strategies, and other related issues.