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China, Georgia sign FTA

Zhong Nan/Xu Jingxi
Updated: May 15,2017 10:21 AM     China Daily

Agreement will see tariffs eliminated on majority of Chinese exports

The China-Georgia Free Trade Agreement will create more space for trade, services and investment activities within the Eurasian area, officials said on May 15.

On May 14, the two countries sealed the agreement to expand bilateral trade. The agreement will become operative sometime between the end of this year and early next year.

Once the agreement takes effect, Georgia will eliminate tariffs on 96.5 percent of Chinese exports, while almost 91 percent of China’s imports from Georgia will become tariff-free immediately. A further 3 percent will be exempted from tariffs within five years.

Georgia’s main exports to China are copper ore, iron ore, nuts, wine, spirits, gold and semifinished products. China ships construction machinery, manufacturing equipment, steel, electronics, textiles, garments and household appliances to Georgia.

Zhang Xingfu, deputy director-general of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce, said the FTA negotiations achieved the goals of comprehensive content and balanced interests.

“It is also significant to the development of the Belt and Road Initiative and China’s FTA strategic layout in the region,” he said.

The FTA covers 17 items, including trade in goods, services, intellectual property rights and the rules governing them. It also includes new topics such as e-commerce, market competition and the environment.

Georgia agreed to further open its services trade covering finance, transportation and other sectors, while China will allow Georgia greater access to its tourism and ocean shipping markets.

Trade between China and Georgia amounted to $717 million from January to September last year, while Georgia imported goods worth $547 million from China, which is the country’s fifth-largest trade partner after Canada, Turkey, Russia and Ireland, during the same period, according to Georgia’s statistics agency.

Georgy Gakhariya, Georgia’s minister of economy and sustainable development, said the agreement could result in higher levels of commerce.

“We hope this free trade agreement will help to increase trade with bigger economies such as China, the European Union and Turkey,” he said.

“Georgia also has free trade agreements with the EU and all of our neighbors, such as Turkey and Russia. So Chinese investors who are interested in trading with big economies, such as the EU, can invest in our country.”

This year, China will continue to push forward FTA talks with more than 20 economies and regions related to the Belt and Road Initiative after clinching 11 similar deals in the Eurasian region, the Ministry of Commerce said last week.