United States and Georgia Sign Trade and Investment Framework Agreement
WASHINGTON, DC – Deputy U.S. Trade Representative John Veroneau and Georgian Minister of Economic Development George Arveladze signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) today that will provide a forum to address trade issues and will help build trade and investment relations between the United States and Georgia.
“Increased trade and investment between our two countries will strengthen Georgia’s efforts to reform and develop its economy and assist in its efforts to expand export markets,” said Ambassador Veroneau. “Under President Saakashvili, Georgia has worked hard to strengthen its economic and trade ties with the United States. We expect this TIFA to provide a forum for concrete progress in this important work to the mutual benefit of both countries.”
The TIFA will establish a forum for discussion of our bilateral trade and investment relations and will help build trade and investment relations between the United States and Georgia. The TIFA mandates the formation of a joint U.S.-Georgia Council on Trade and Investment which will address a wide range of trade and investment issues including trade capacity building, intellectual property, labor, and environmental issues. The Council will also help to increase commercial and investment opportunities by identifying and working to remove impediments to trade and investment flows between the United States and Georgia. The first meeting of the Council will take place on June 21 in Washington.
Following the Rose Revolution of November 2003, President Mikhail Saakashvili was elected to a five year term in January 2004. The Saakashvili government set goals of building democracy, increasing prosperity, and peacefully reincorporating Georgia's separatist regions, and promised to reorient the government and the economy toward privatization, free markets, reduced regulation, and control of corruption.
Georgia’s progress has been widely recognized. The World Bank cited Georgia as the world's fastest-reforming economy in its 2007 “Doing Business” report, ranking Georgia as the world's 37th easiest place to do business. The Bank's “Anti-Corruption in Transition 3” report shows impressive gains in Georgia’s struggle against corruption, due to implementation of a strong program of economic and institutional reform, and reported reductions in the burden of bribes paid by firms in the course of doing business. The government intends to completely eliminate import duties by 2008, which it expects to reduce costs and stimulate business.
The United States and other international donors are assisting with Georgia's transition to democracy, creation of a functioning market economy, and poverty reduction. U.S. assistance is targeted to support Georgia's democratic, economic, and security reform programs, with an emphasis on institution building and implementing lasting reforms. The United States has provided Georgia approximately $1.7 billion in assistance since 1991. On September 12, 2005, Georgia signed a compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation for a five-year $295.3 million assistance package.
Total goods trade between the United States and Georgia was valued at $369 million in 2006. U.S. foreign direct investment in Georgia stood at $70 million in 2005, the most recent year for which accurate data are available.