France and Georgia
We maintain friendly relations with Georgia through high level contacts. Mr 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 French Minister of Foreign Affairs received his Georgian counterpart Ms Maia Pandjikidze in 2013, while the Minister Delegate for European Affairs, Mr Thierry Repentin, received Ms Maia Pandjikidze, Mr Irakli Garibashvili, Minister of the Interior and designated Prime Minister, and the Minister of Defence, Mr Irakli Alasania. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development visited Georgia on 24 April 2014 together with his German counterpart and received his counterpart, Mr Giorgi Kvirikashvili, on 23 September 2015. The President of the French Republic met with President Giorgi Margvelashvili on the occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on 29 November 2013, 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 on the occasion of the NATO Summit on 4 September 2014.
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.
Our trade remains low but increased in 2015. French exports (€108 million in 2014) consist mainly of industrial products (60%), in particular pharmaceuticals (31%), which are our leading export item, followed by food products (21%) and chemical products, perfumes and cosmetics (14%).
Imports from Georgia (€32 million in 2014) consist mainly of agricultural and agrifood products (€20 million or 61%).
. France is Georgia’s 17th-largest client as the destination for 0.9% of Georgian exports. The main markets for Georgian products are Azerbaijan (19%), Armenia (10%), Russia (10%), Turkey (8%) and the United States (7%).
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, combined with the opening of French credit insurance and project aid policies and French Development Agency (AFD) 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 French Development Agency (AFD) 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 primarily operate.
Our cultural cooperation relies in Tbilisi on the French Institute in Georgia, which opened in autumn 1998 (library, audiovisual aids for the public). The Institute has been financially autonomous since 1 January 2002. Furthermore, a policy to support the teaching of French has been put in place.
Our programming priorities centre on support for training of the 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), on medicine, demography, palaeontology and archaeology, as well as 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 autumn 2015.
The cultural cooperation and action budget was set at €292,000 in 2014 (a third of which was allocated to scholarships), and at €281,000 in 2015 and €274,000 in 2016.