|FTA talks to start with Tbilisi and Chisinau|
|December 06, 2011|
By Lénaïc Vaudin d'Imécourt
Negotiations toward a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement (DCFTA) will be initiated between the European Union and Georgia and Moldova in early 2012, the European Commission announced, on 5 December. The two agreements will be part of a broader association agreement that the two Eastern countries have been negotiating since July 2010, under the Eastern Partnership framework and the European Neighbourhood Policy.
The EU is already these two countries' primary trading partner with an overall bilateral trade in goods estimated at €1.7 billion with Georgia and €2.1 billion with Moldova. With a new FTA linking these countries to the EU's internal market, trade is expected to increase significantly, even though import duties are already extremely low thanks to their preferential access to the EU market. Georgia benefits from the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) and Moldova from the Autonomous Trade Preference (ATP) system.
According to trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, an FTA with both countries will help them become “more competitive and enjoy the benefits of the EU single market”. In order to enable Moldova and Georgia to start negotiating trade agreements, the EU had imposed a number of requirements to be fulfilled and reforms to be implemented in the areas of technical regulations and competition rules. According to the Commission, Moldova and Georgia have made sufficient progress in these key areas to enable them to launch FTA negotiations. “Moldova and Georgia have achieved sufficient progress with the necessary reforms and have fulfilled a set of conditions to be able to proceed further in the gradual economic integration with the EU internal market," said Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle.
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