Global Trade, Local Needs: Supporting Agricultural Trade Capacity in Georgia (September 5-7)
Tbilisi, Georgia – On September 5th forty-five individuals representing the private sector, academia, civil society and government met to discuss food safety requirements for successful export and import of food products under both World Trade Organization (WTO) and European Union (EU) harmonized rules. The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The United States and the Republic of Georgia share a close relationship on food and agricultural trade and a long history of regulatory and economic cooperation, including in food safety and animal health.
The potential impact of sanitary and phytosanitary (e.g. food safety, animal and plant health) (SPS) regulations on agricultural enterprises and trade were discussed, along with opportunities for improving communication and cooperation between the private sector and government on SPS issues. First Deputy Minister of Agriculture Nodar Kereselidze opened the workshop by reiterating the importance of SPS for protecting Georgian agriculture and consumers. He also emphasized Georgia’s strong commitment to the EU association under their Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) as well as other bi-lateral agreements with WTO countries. Presentations and discussion focused on key WTO SPS issues, WTO transparency and private sector preparedness in Georgia’s approximation process.
“The presentation and discussion helped me to understand different approaches to global SPS issues within the WTO framework,” commented Ms. Ketevan Laperashvili, Deputy Head, Agriculture and Food Department.
On September 6 and 7th a smaller group of participants met to discuss WTO notification requirements related to the WTO SPS Agreement, and how the Government of Georgia and private sector can work together to develop an on-going mechanism for national level consultation on SPS issues. Working sessions produced draft terms of reference and a set of next steps for consideration by relevant Georgian ministries.
“Learning about how SPS-related regulations affect my business and how I can respond is important,” said Mr. Giorgi Todua, Executive Director, Georgian Hazelnut Growers Association