DCFTA Information Centre – Achievements in Serving Georgian SMEs

24 June, 2019, Tbilisi – 6,000 SMEs in Georgia’s regions have been consulted and trained on DCFTA related issues via DCFTA Information Centre services offered by the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI). Local entrepreneurs are now better equipped to compete on domestic market and take advantage of the opportunities provided by the free trade area with the EU. 
Results of the DCFTA Information Centre activities were presented in an event organized by GCCI: “DCFTA Information Centre – Achievements in Serving Georgian SMEs”. The event was held with support from the EU co-financed project “SME Development and DCFTA in Georgia, which is implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). More than 200 entrepreneurs from across Georgia, representatives of the business community and international organizations participated in the event.
Supporting entrepreneurs in regions is one of the Chamber’s main directions. Local SMEs are able to receive detailed information about the requirements for accessing the EU market through services that our DCFTA Information Centre provides. We provide regular trainings on the ground. Raising awareness of local businesses will boost their development and will improve the quality of their products to match European standards”, – said Nino Chikovani, President of GCCI at the outset. 
The opening remarks were delivered Mr. Genadi Arveladze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Mr. Gela Khanishvili, Deputy Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Mr. Carlo Natale, Deputy Head of EU Delegation to Georgia, and Ms. Katja Kammerer, Programme Director, Private Sector Development and TVET South Caucasus, GIZ. 
Carlo Natale, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union stated: “The four DCFTA information centres are well equipped to deliver tailor-made advice to companies and inform about DCFTA requirements and opportunities. We thank our partners for the results achieved and hope that a growing number of companies will profit from the services of the centres.
The event highlighted the progress made by GCCI via its DCFTA Information Centre services in raising awareness of SMEs in regions about requirements and opportunities associated with the DCFTA, as well as the mechanisms of support to SMEs in getting needed technical, advisory and financial assistance available in the country. GCCI partnered with the EU-GIZ project: to develop, pilot, and further refine DCFTA Information Centre services in regions. From 2017 onward these services included DCFTA related consultations, outreach and trainings, as well as quality referrals empowering Georgian SMEs in the regions to adapt to the requirements of the AA/DCFTA. GCCI representatives showcased success stories and discussed next steps to sustain, develop and upscale those highly demanded services across the country.  
The DCFTA Information Centre service was established in four regions of Georgia - Autonomous Republic of Adjara (Batumi), Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti (Zugdidi), Imereti (Kutaisi) and Shida Kartli (Gori). More than 3,500 entrepreneurs were consulted and moe than 2,500 entrepreneurs participated in 120 trainings since 2017. The themes of trainings included standards and requirements of the EU market (food safety, SPS, modern technologies in agriculture, basics of bio agribusiness, etc.). SMEs were consulted on general DCFTA related topics, EU regulations, HS code identification, customs duties and procedures, tariffs, communication with state agencies. 
The activities of the DCFTA Information Centre offices in the regions increased the intensity of interaction among regional SMES building trust and momentum for private sector actors to cooperate more closely by forming industry associations to promote common interests. GCCI welcomed these developments and promoted the establishment of industry associations by co-founding and providing further support through the Centre’s regional offices. Three industry associations were established or expanded their operation in 2017-2018: the Georgian Greens Producers’ Association, the Kiwi Producers’ Association and the Alliance of Beekeepers of West Georgia.
 Giorgi Vekua, GCCI, M: +995 557202211, g.vekua@gcci.ge