“Georgia’s trade policy is one
of the most liberal in the world - 80% of imported goods are not subject to
customs duties, procedures are simple and non-tariff barriers are minimal,” Finance
Minister Ivane Machavariani said the other day.
However, the local
business is not so optimistic - importers speak about queues at customs
checkpoints and delays in cargo delivery.
“The queues have recently
reduced, but very often importers are met in the so-called “yellow corridor”,
which is very important in terms of time loss. Sometimes it takes 5 days to
complete all the procedures for the clearance of goods within the law, and
importers have to pay taxes for goods that are not delivered to the place, ” Iva
Khasia, head of the Importers Association, notes.
According to Khasia, this
is a very serious problem for the business that loses time, but still the
problem can be solved if there is political will.
In the words of Levan Vepkhvadze, Executive Director of the
Georgian Business Association, bureaucratic barriers at borders are connected
with VAT fraud schemes.
“The main problem is unscrupulous
companies that create fake assets, and then
demand the return of VAT. Excessive
strictness at the border can be explained by this fact. This does not directly
affect decent businessmen, but they also suffer from it, ” the head of the Business
He believes that customs can’t be blamed because it fulfills its duties - it
fixes all the goods to obtain adequate customs revenues that correspond to the
real volume of imports.
“They are obliged to do this, otherwise they will be accused of corruption. However, the
problem is being solved and the
situation on the border has improved, ”Levan Vepkhvadze says.