On October 6, 1999 Georgia became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) which granted Georgia the status of the Most Favoured Nation with 135 WTO member countries. Through the mechanisms of this organisation, Georgia will be protected from discrimination, unfair competition, falsification and unjustified limitations.
In 1996 Georgia signed an agreement on partnership and cooperation with the European Union which deals with economic relations in almost every sector. In fact the agreement covers all sectors of the economy.
In 1999 Georgia became a member of the Council of Europe with full rights, which will further facilitate trade-economic relations between Georgia and member countries of the European Union.
Many countries have granted to Georgia reductions in import customs taxes to their countries, under the General System of Preferences. These include the countries of the European Union, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Canada and Japan. This is one of the most important influences on the successful growth of exports for Georgia. The effective use of facilities such as GSP will substantially promote Georgian export development.
Law of Georgia "On Technical Barriers to Trade". The law "On Technical Barriers to Trade" lays down the basis for eliminating the technical barriers to trade during the process of the preparation, adoption and application of the technical regulations, standards and the procedures for the assessment of conformity.
The national technical regulations and standards should not create unnecessary obstacles to trade, which will put national products in favourable conditions. Therefore, the development of the national technical regulations and standards should be carried out on the basis of a direct use of the international standards.
Georgian legislation did not envisage the concept of technical regulations. The concept of technical regulations was defined by Law of Georgia "On Standardization" adopted in 1999. The technical regulations is a legal act, which defines the technical specifications for products or service, which is done directly or by means of referring to Georgian standards and requiring that complying with these standards is compulsory.
The principles of the state standards that are effective in Georgia envisage the application of the national standards on a compulsory basis from the moments of its effectiveness. However, based on the principles that define the standards as voluntary, the international practice envisages two-stage approach to making a standard as mandatory requirement: the standard that was adopted by national body is optional and it may be used by any party, however it will become mandatory, if it is defined by:
Such stipulation is indicated in the technical regulations;
A producer or supplier of services assumed such responsibility by the assessment of conformity.
The first chapter of the present draft law lays down the legal basis for eliminating the technical barriers to trade during the process of the preparation, adoption and application of the technical regulations, standards and the procedures for the assessment of conformity.
It defines the terms, including "Technical barriers to trade", which in fact is the discrepancy in requirements from those used at a national level or in international practice with respect to the technical regulations, standards and the procedures for the assessment of conformity.
It defines the different categories of technical regulations, which include:
Legislative acts, the decrees of the President of Georgia, which consist of the product requirements;
The national standards, the application of which is mandatory;
The agency specific normative acts issued by government bodies, the competency of which, according to the legislation of Georgia, includes laying down the mandatory product requirements.
The second chapter defines the requirements to the content of technical regulations, preparation of technical regulations and procedures for the assessment of conformity, coordination of the activities related to the development of technical regulations, and recognizing the technical regulations of foreign countries as an equivalent to the national technical regulations.
Chapter three defines the procedure of applying technical regulations and standards, which includes making references to standards in technical regulations, fulfillment of standards as a mandatory requirement, fulfillment of standards as a voluntary requirement, and the national arrangements for applying the technical regulations and standards with respect to the national and imported products.
Chapter four defines the principles of providing information relating to technical barriers to trade. The main emphasis is placed on the Central Information Center of Standards, the main function of which is the relationship with the World Trade Organization. The Central Information Center of Standards provides information about the technical regulations, standards and the procedures for the assessment of conformity that are already developed or are in the process of development. It should carry out the coordination of activities of the centers set up in this field by other government bodies.
Chapter five defines the authority and responsibility of the National Standardizing Body and other government bodies.
Chapter six lays down the principles of the state control and supervision on complying with the requirements of technical regulations, as well as the responsibility for violating the requirements of the law.
Chapter seven states that the process of developing technical regulations has to be financed by the state on a mandatory basis.
Chapter eight contains the provisional clauses, which states that the government bodies should adopt and publish those technical regulations, which envisage complying on a mandatory basis with the standards that ensure the quality of products, processes and service, security, protection of human life, protection of the health, property and environment. With this respect it will be significant to employ, whenever developing the technical regulations, the directives issued by the countries that are members of the European Union.
Chapter nine defines the amendments that have to be made into Georgian legislation after this law becomes effective.
The Law of Georgia "On Technical Barriers to Trade" should initiate the practical efforts towards the preparation, adoption and application of the technical regulations, which will be step forward towards setting up voluntary standardization system that is one of the attributes of modern market relationships.
- Georgian Export Promotion Agency (GEPA)
The Georgian Export Promotion Agency was set up by the Georgian Government and the European Union's Technical Assistance Programme TACIS with the principal aim of assisting Georgian companies to increase exports and thus to stimulate an improvement in the country's trade balance. The GEPA was established in April 1999. Since then, the German Government's Technical Assistance Programme GTZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH) has also invested in the agency both in its personnel and in its activities.
GEPA supports Georgian business interests in the global marketplace, assists in forging business alliances, facilitates establishment of international business relationships. GEPA provides comprehensive information on business opportunities both for Georgian and overseas companies.
Export Information Center. GEPA Export Information Centre (EIC) promotes Georgian companies and their products on the global marketplace. It offers the services of two Georgian business information officers and a librarian who work in cooperation with specialists from EU countries. The EIC holds a wide range trade information resources including reference materials, manuals and textbooks on exporting, sector related journals from overseas, CD-ROM and online databases, information on local and foreign markets, trade regulations and has wide access to trade leads databases.
The EIC services include but are not limited to:
Providing market information to Georgian exporters
Introducing Georgia and Georgian products to companies around the world
Assisting foreign companies in sourcing products in Georgia
Offering online trade leads both for Georgian exporters and overseas importers
Assisting Georgian companies in developing an export marketing strategy
Overseas Exhibitions and Trade Missions. GEPA is actively involved in preparing overseas business visits for Georgian business groups to meet with new trading partners; we also prepare and part finance Georgian sectors' participation at international exhibitions. Many foreign delegations, commercial and governmental, pay a visit to our agency during their visits to Tbilisi. Study tours for sectors with potential have been organized to Canada, UK and Germany.
With financial assistance from the German government's technical assistance programme,