The Georgian entrepreneurs have problems when entering the Turkish and Azerbaijani market. Technical barriers and the customs taxes are hindering the entry of Georgian food manufacturers. As a result, the products are smuggled to the neighboring countries.
For this reason, local entrepreneurs demand to introduce certain restrictions on imports to protect local production.
Gigla Agulashvili, the Agricultural Committee Chairman, is familiar with the problem the entrepreneurs have in the neighboring countries, however, he is against the imposition of restrictions on imports.
He says that Turkey has created some barriers on imports of specific products, it’s a political decision, however, Georgia cannot afford to take such a step.
In his words, the barrier may have an instant effect, but is wrong in the long run.
George Kepashvili, President of Georgia Beekeepers Association, says that for years buses loaded with smuggled honey have transported the product from Georgia to Turkey, while the trade agreement signed between Georgia and Turkey, envisages free import of 200 tons of honey a year.
Kepashvili notes that the Turkish government does not have the political will to officially allow the Georgian honey into Turkey, and for this reason hides the information that 200 tons of honey can be brought from Georgia without any customs duties. Therefore, Kepashvili says the 200-ton quota remains in the air, while the Georgian budget suffers losses.
He adds that this information was provided to the government, however, it has not responded so far. The Ministries of Economy and Agriculture should be involved in the process and force the Turkish side to inform a wider public about the quota”, – says Kepashvili.
In Azerbaijan, in his opinion, the problem is mainly caused by the existing corruption in this country.
Zurab Uchumbegashvili , President of the Poultry Association, also talks about problems in exporting products to Turkey.
He says that despite the bilateral trade agreement and Turkey’s membership in the World Trade Organization, at the time it developed mechanisms to protect its market.
“It imposed a 108% tax on imports of poultry. Our country has a 0% tax on chickens. Egg tax is 12%. Without considering the foregoing, they ask phytosanitary and veterinary documents that cannot be prepared in Georgia. Georgia doesn’t have even the lab that can detect GM products “, – says Uchumbegashvili.
“Absolutely nothing is happening in this regard”, – concludes Zurab Uchumbegashvili.