Senior representatives of the Georgian government, international financial institutions and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) met in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on 22 March to discuss the opportunities for the private sector brought by free trade with the EU.
The conference on ‘Georgian SMEs and Free Trade with the EU’ looked at the successful results of the implementation of the EU4Business-EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) Credit Line. Companies who have benefited from the programme also shared their experiences.
The event was attended by the country’s First Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Dimitry Kumsishvili, and Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), Katarina Mathernova.
The conference served as a platform to present a review of progress in access to finance for SMEs over the last year, followed by a moderated discussion on ‘Free Trade with the European Union – ways forward for Georgian companies’, a question and answer session and a networking lunch.
The EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line is a joint initiative between the EU and the EBRD targeting SMEs in Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. All three countries are signatories to an Association Agreement and benefit from signing up to the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the EU. The Credit Line offers SMEs finance to invest in upgrading their production, boosting growth and increasing their competitiveness. This is complemented by grant incentives of up to 15 per cent, along with technical assistance in the form of advisory services of local and international consultants and the EBRD’s advice for small businesses.