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Irakli Gharibashvili: “There were 107 million bottles of wine exported from Georgia to 62 countries in 2021 which is a historic maximum.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement is TRUE.

Resume: According to the data of the National Wine Agency of Georgia, there were 107 million bottles of wine exported from Georgia to 62 different countries in 2021 which is the record high figure in the history of independent Georgia. The wine export volume in 2021 is 365% higher as compared to 2012 instead of 360% as stated by the Prime Minister. There were 23 million bottles of wine exported in 2012 and revenues from the export amounted to USD 71 million whilst the revenues from 107 million bottles of wine exported from Georgia reached USD 250 million in 2021. Therefore, Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement is TRUE.

Analysis:

The Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, at the session of the Government of Georgia discussed wine export in a nine-year perspective and stated: “There were 107 million bottles of wine exported from Georgia to 62 countries in 2021 which is a maximum in the history of independent Georgia. As compared to 2012, wine exports increased by 360%. In 2012, revenues from export were USD 71 million. Last year, they were USD 250 million. The difference is this large in these nine years which is a record high figure.”

According to the data of the National Wine Agency of Georgia, there were 107 million bottles of wine exported from Georgia to 62 different countries in 2021 which is the record high figure in the history of independent Georgia. The wine export volume last year is 365% higher as compared to 2012 instead of 360% as stated by the Prime Minister. There were 23 million bottles of wine exported in 2012 and revenues from the export amounted to USD 71 million whilst the revenues from 107 million bottles of wine exported from Georgia reached USD 250 million in 2021. Wine export since 2012 are as follows:

Table 1: Georgian Wine Export, Volume and Export Revenues

Source: National Wine Agency of Georgia

According to the information of the National Wine Agency of Georgia, the wine export growth dynamic vis-à-vis strategic markets has been maintained: Poland - 34% (7,003,031 bottles), China - 29% (5,934,937), USA - 19% (1,084,278), Germany - 28% (892,348), Latvia - 19% (1,900,519), Lithuania - 45% (986,740), Japan - 12% (197,638) and the UK - 71% (736,391).

There has been export growth in export to the following countries as well: Canada - 76% (332,182), Sweden - 76% (136,786), the Czech Republic - 227% (148,002), Norway - 1047% (108,086), Israel - 50% (480,007), Kazakhstan - 47% (4,232,446), Azerbaijan - 35% (246,635), Turkey - 260% (108,570), Ukraine - 21% (12,921,321), Russia - 8% (62,115,759), Mongolia - 158% (484,902), Belarus - 33% (4,886,393), etc.

As illustrated by the statistical data, wine export growth started in 2013. Later, there was a sharp drop in 2015 with growth returning from 2017. The only exception is the last – pandemic – year. In 2021, there were 62,115,759 million bottles of wine exported to the Russian market according to statistical data. This accounts for 58% of the total wine exports.

Graph 1: Georgian Wine Exports to the Russian Market in 2012-2021, Million Bottles (0.75 L), GEL Million

Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

Wine export analysis shows that the increase or the decrease of Georgian wine exports usually depend on the Russian factor. As we know, Russia banned the import of agricultural products (including wine) from Georgia in 2006 by a decree issued by the Chief Sanitary Inspector of Russia, Gennady Onishchenko, on the basis of Georgian wines being of poor quality. This embargo resulted in a significant drop in Georgian wine export. In 2006, Georgian wine export amounted to USD 41 million whilst it almost halved and decreased to USD 29 million the following year.

In the reporting period, Russia’s share in Georgia’s wine export was the lowest in 2012 (34%) which was stipulated by the aforementioned embargo. Georgian wine export to Russia resumed in June 2013. In 2013-2014, Georgian wine export increased significantly, largely because of the lifting of the trade ban on Georgian wines (2013 – 128 million, 2014 – 185 million). In 2015, it was Russian factor that again caused a decline in Georgian wine export. That year, instability in Russia and Ukraine significantly affected Georgian wine export and resulted in a 39% drop in exports (USD 96 million). Since 2017, Russia’s share in wine export has been declining (2019 was an exception). Last year, too, Russia’s share in exports increased marginally by 1%.

Events unfolding after 20 June 2019 (Russia’s threat to impose sanctions on Georgian products) demonstrated once again that Russia is an unreliable trade partner which often uses trade relations with Georgia for political purposes. Therefore, it is desirable to be less dependent on an unstable market such as the Russia. As mentioned earlier, Russia’s share in wine exports in the past few years has been declining, although more effective steps are needed in order to raise awareness on Georgian wines and further popularise them.

Irakli Gharibashvili used the growth of Georgia’s wine export to demonstrate the successful performance of the Government of Georgia. As mentioned earlier, wine export is indeed at a historic high, although attention should also be paid to the case which happened on 29 November 2021 at international wine exposition in Berlin in addition to the positive contribution of the government. As reported by the media, Georgian wine samples, intended for the event in Berlin for which the National Wine Agency of Georgia was responsible, could not be transported in time. We remain hopeful that this is only an isolated incident and that the National Wine Agency would demonstrate more prudency in the future.

Given the aforementioned materials, Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement is TRUE.


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