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Georgia can reduce economic dependence on Russia, says NGOs

NGOs and research centres of Georgia said in a statement on Tuesday that Georgia can reduce its economic dependence on Russia.

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Georgia:  Non-governmental organisations and research centres of Georgia said in a statement on Tuesday that the country can reduce its economic dependence on Russia, utilise the country’s transit function more efficiently, and accelerate economic integration with Western countries in the midst of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The statement, which was signed by five NGOs operating in the country, includes ten recommendations to the Government on economic issues, including a recommendation for a reduction in budget expenses, noting that the reduction should be applied to both current expenses and the financing of projects whose effectiveness is unknown.

In addition, the statement demands the elimination of import duty taxes for countries with which Georgia does not have a free trade agreement but which serve as “alternative suppliers” of mostly Russian-made goods. The advice is justified by the need to avoid price increases and maintain macroeconomic stability.

Moreover, the Government should start working “more actively and expeditiously” on negotiating free trade agreements with “all strategic partners” and devise a strategy to reduce its energy dependency on Russian exports, according to the organisations.

The statement also emphasises the need for a “clear and unequivocal” assurance from the Georgian Government that the nation would not be utilised to circumvent Russian sanctions.

Although sanctions are essentially a political problem, the present expectation that Georgia would be used to bypass sanctions is harming the country’s reputation, which will obstruct the country’s long-term economic growth,” the statement states.

Furthermore, the NGOs and research centres also point out Georgia could recruit semi- and highly qualified professionals among Ukrainian refugees arriving in the country in sectors of the economy where it lacks local professional capabilities.

The signatories of the statement also mention the need for Georgia to speed up the process of implementing reforms aimed at strengthening the rule of law and “reducing bureaucratic barriers to promote the investment and business environment,” as well as accelerate the development of the business sector, as part of their mentions of new possibilities.

Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, new estimates from major institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank anticipate that Georgia’s economy will grow at a slower pace in 2022 than previously predicted.

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