Monday, March 22, 2010

Bilateral trade: Russia ready to talk to Georgia on trade

Source: United Nations Association of Georgia - Moscow has said it was ready to engage in talks with Tbilisi to fill the gaps in legal framework for bilateral trade, which emerged after Georgia withdraw from Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Rules of origin of goods applicable within CIS was also an element to the 1994 Russia-Georgia free trade agreement providing basis for preferential tariff treatment.

Russia banned import of Georgia's major export commodities in 2006, more than two years before Georgia decided to pull out from CIS following the 2008, August war.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Georgia had appealed to Russia in July, 2009 and requested to sort out this issue. It said that the appeal was made via Swiss embassy, which acts as diplomatic go-between after Russia and Georgia cut diplomatic ties following the August war.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that the Georgian side was "insistingly raising" this issue during two rounds of talks held in October and December, 2009 in connection to reopening of the Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi border crossing point.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry strongly denied on March 20 that it made any appeal or request to Russia to launch talks to fill the gap in legal framework for bilateral trade.

"This is yet another attempt [by Russia] to mislead the international community," Giorgi Karalashvili, head of department for relations with CIS at the Georgian Foreign Ministry, said.

He also said that the issue related with rules of origin of goods automatically was raised during the talks on reopening border, as it was required to identify set of those document, which would have been required during the border crossing.

In its statement the Russian Foreign Ministry also said that because of having an interest in "development of trade" between the two countries and also "to reciprocate" to Georgia's request, Moscow had drafted proposals to resolve the issue. It said that notification was sent to the Georgian side via the Swiss embassy in December, 2009.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that in an additional note in March, 2010, it had notified Tbilisi via the Swiss embassy about Moscow's readiness to provide the Georgian products preferential tariff treatment "on the temporary basis" under the condition of "meeting certain rules" of providing certificates of origin of goods.

"At the same time we deem it necessary to launch talks in the nearest future on developing comprehensive rules of identifying origin of goods with a purpose of bilateral trade," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"Showing good will, we further intend to constructively consider issues concerning relations with Georgia, which have concrete practical importance," it added

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