EU trade talks start with Moldova and Georgia
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has been in Moldova and Georgia this week to launch negotiations on establishing what he called Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) between the EU and the two countries.
"I am confident that these negotiations will move ahead swiftly and pave the way to closer economic ties with the EU," the Commissioner said. "The opening of negotiations confirms the EU's commitment to deepen progressive economic integration and political association with our Eastern Partners."
The Commissioner's visit takes place ahead of the first negotiation rounds scheduled for 19–23 March (Moldova) and 26–30 March 2012 (Georgia).
The DCFTAs will be part of the Association Agreements currently being negotiated with Georgia and Moldova, which have the overall objective of significantly deepening political association and economic integration with these Eastern Partner countries.
They are very ambitious in nature, aiming to tackle trade obstacles at the borders and eliminating those behind the border. One objective is to bring legislation of its trade partners closer together with EU legislation in trade-related areas (this is the "deep" part of the deal).
In addition, the scope of the agreements is very broad, addressing matters that are considered fundamental to a modern, transparent and predictable trade and investment regime, such as competition, government procurement and intellectual property rights (hence "comprehensive").
Both countries currently enjoy preferential access to the EU market through the autonomous lower import duties of the Generalised System of Preferences, with further incentives for good governance (GSP+ for Georgia) and Autonomous Trade Preferences (Moldova).
The future trade agreements will extend significantly beyond the scope of current co-operation, governed by the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements, in force since July 1998 (Moldova) and July 1999 (Georgia).