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Natia Turnava: “The EU is Georgia’s number-one trade partner and it accounts for nearly 23-24% of trade turnover.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Natia Turnava’s statement is TRUE.

Resume:

EU-Georgia trade turnover in 2018-2019 was indeed 23-24% of Georgia’s total trade turnover and is now 22.4% according to the preliminary data. However, unfortunately, last year’s figure is a deviation from the annual growth dynamic in 2012-2020 when EU-Georgia trade turnover was usually on average 25% of Georgia’s total trade turnover.

The Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia considers the EU as a single market for the sake of analysing trade figures. The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), consisting of Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, is a similar type of a single market which is relevant for comparison. In the last years, Georgia’s trade turnover with EU member states has been routinely higher as compared to trade with the EAEU.

Analysis:

The Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Natia Turnava, stated at a government press conference: “The EU is Georgia’s number-one trade partner and it accounts for nearly 23-24% of trade turnover.” Ms Turnava made this statement in connection to the EU-Georgia Association Council meeting where the EU affirmed its support toward Georgia in regard to better connections through the Black Sea within a Black Sea “connectivity.” In particular, this was highlighted given the need for the development of ferry transport, mostly among Georgian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Ukrainian seaports.

Of note is that deepening economic relations with the EU is Georgia’s strategic priority. Georgia signed a free trade agreement with the EU in 2014. The trade turnover is the total sum of exports and imports. Table 1 shows the total EU-Georgia trade turnover statistics. EU-Georgia trade turnover in 2018-2019 was indeed 23-24% of Georgia’s total trade turnover. However, unfortunately, last year’s figure is a deviation from the annual growth dynamic in 2012-2020 when EU-Georgia trade turnover was on average 25% of Georgia’s total trade turnover. Moreover, the EU-Georgia trade turnover relative figure decreased as compared to the previous years. The imports from the EU have not changed significantly in 2012-2019 and amounted to nearly USD 2.2 billion whilst Georgia’s exports to the EU increased by 137% which is a positive occurrence.

Table 1: EU-Georgia Trade Turnover Statistics in 2012-2020, USD Million

Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

The Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia considers the EU as a single market for the sake of analysing the trade figures. The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), consisting of Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, is a similar type of a single market relevant for comparison.

Graph 1: EU-Georgia and EAEU-Georgia Trade Turnover in 2012-2020, USD Million

Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

Graph 1 shows the EU-Georgia and EAEU-Georgia trade turnover statistics. In the last years, EU-Georgia trade turnover has indeed exceeded that of the EAEU-Georgia trade turnover. However, of note is that the EAEU-Georgia trade turnover has been growing and increased by 90% in 2020 as compared to 2012 whilst the EU-Georgia trade turnover decreased by 4% as compared to 2012. The reason behind the general decrease in the trade turnover in 2020 is obviously the pandemic-induced crisis.


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