We maintain friendly relations with Georgia through high level contacts. President Eduard Shevarnadze made an official visit to France in 1995 and Mr Mikheil Saakashvili in 2010, while President Nicolas Sarkozy made an official visit to Tbilisi on 7 October 2011. The President of the French Republic, François Hollande, met with President Giorgi Margvelashvili during the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on 29 November 2013 and the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on 24 April 2014, made an official visit to Tbilisi on 13 May 2014, and again met with his Georgian counterpart at the NATO Summit on 4 September 2014, as well as receiving him on 21 April 2016 during his official visit to France (20-23 April). He also met briefly with the Prime Minister, Mr Kvirikashvili, on 31 May 2016, during a visit to Bordeaux to inaugurate the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development visited Georgia on 24 April 2014 together with his German opposite number, and received his Georgian counterpart, Mr Giorgi Kvirikashvili, on 23 September 2015.
Between mid-February and mid-June 2016, the Georgian President, Prime Minister and Ministers of Agriculture, the Interior, Justice, European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, and Defence, all visited France.
There are several bilateral agreements between our two countries, including an Investment Protection Agreement which entered into force in 2000 and an Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation, signed in 2007. The Coface credit insurance mechanism was opened for Georgia in 2009.
Georgia has carried out major structural reforms and is highly ranked internationally for its business environment. It has received French investment in the areas of banking, distribution, transport, hospitality and agri-food.
Our trade remains limited but is growing gradually (our exports have tripled over 10 years). French exports (€120 million in 2015, compared to €108 million in 2014) consist mainly of industrial products (€100, or 83%), in particular pharmaceuticals (39%), which are our leading export, followed by agri-food products (15%) and chemicals, perfumes and cosmetics (15%). With a market share of 1.5% in 2015, France is, however, only the 16ᵗʰ-largest supplier to Georgia.
Imports from Georgia (€25 million in 2015, as against €32 million in 2014) consist mainly of agricultural and agrifood products (43%) and chemicals, perfumes and cosmetics (25%). France is Georgia’s 22ⁿᵈ-largest client, as the destination for less than 1% of Georgian exports.
The Georgian market is relatively small (with a population of 3.7 million for a per capita income of about US$ 4,500), but the authorities’ strong will to modernize and France’s excellent image there, combined with the opening of French credit insurance and project aid policies and Agence française de développement (AFD, French Development Agency) funding, are likely to further the positioning of French companies in the country in coming years. Transport, tourism and winter sports, as well as agriculture, seem particularly promising sectors.
The intergovernmental agreement for the establishment of the AFD there was signed on 13 May 2014, during the French President’s visit to Tbilisi. The AFD has identified agriculture, transport and tourism as sectors where it could operate as a priority. It has committed a first loan of €20 million for farming, and will open an office in Tbilisi in November 2016.
Our cultural cooperation relies in Tbilisi on the Institut français (French Institute) in Georgia, which opened in autumn 1998 (library and multimedia for the public). It has been financially autonomous since 1 January 2002. Furthermore, a policy to support the teaching of French has been put in place.
Our programme priorities centre on support for training of Georgian elites (development of French-language university courses, support for training of journalists, creation of a French school in Tbilisi, administrative training in cooperation with ENA), on agriculture (an agriculture financing expert was made available to the Georgian government in February 2014 for two years), on medicine, demography, palaeontology and archaeology, and on audio-visual cooperation and the development of a French cultural presence in Tbilisi and the provinces. The French School of the Caucasus, which was established in September 2006, moved to new premises in 2010 and had almost 300 pupils in 2015-2016.
The cultural cooperation and action budget stood at €292,000 in 2014, €281,000 in 2015 and €274,000 in 2016. The incentive study grant programme for Master’s programmes has doubled in size, thanks to co-financing starting from 2016.
Updated: 6 September 2016