Today, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, and Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, signed a Financing Agreement for a new programme to help Georgia implement the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and promote the private sector development.
Commissioner Hahn said: "This new programme is a clear signal of the EU's determination to support Georgia with the implementation of the Association Agreement and the DCFTA which will facilitate Georgia's economic integration into the EU market. Georgia has rightly recognised the need to promote small businesses as a way to foster a sustainable economic development and inclusive economic growth. We respond to this need with a Facility for SMEs which complements the new DCFTA programme and which is designed to meet the specific requirements of small and medium businesses".
The new three-year programme launched by the Financing Agreement is worth €44.5 million and will assist the Georgian Government in the implementation of the DCFTA. The EU support will focus on: (1) further strengthening the policy framework for trade and the development of SMEs; (2) improving the functioning of the institutions regulating and supporting the trade and the private-sector; (3) strengthening economic actors and SMEs while adjusting to the new regulatory environment according to the DCFTA; (4) the economic integration of returned migrants, women in business and young entrepreneurs.
This programme is complemented by the DCFTA Facility for SMEs, a regional initiative of the EU and the European Financing Institutions (EBRD and EIB at the first place) aiming at mobilising about €150 million of EU grant to unlock approximately € 1.5 billion of investments in the SMEs of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. As part of this initiative, the EU and EBRD have signed already in December 2014 a new SME Direct Finance programme of €10 million that will directly support investment by SMEs in the three countries by guaranteeing loans for ca. €70 million.