Why Invest in Georgia: The French Chamber of Commerce Explains All

The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Georgia (CCIFG) is a French local business network. At the beginning, in 2008, it was merely a business “club” composed of four persons. In 2011, the club became a Chamber of Commerce and currently brings together around 70 members. The aim is to support the businesspersons by helping them through procedures and giving them some knowledge of the country. Antoine Bardon, living in Georgia since 1992, President of the CCIFG, gave GEORGIA TODAY an exclusive insight into the local economic institution. The question is, why might a foreign investor want to enter Georgia?

PROS: The Georgian market is free and easily accessible to any foreign company. The cost of establishing a business is far below some European countries, this being a financial advantage. In addition, the procedures which are necessary to set up a new company are quick and effective. Moreover, Georgia faced its corruption issues many years ago and became the most economic friendly environment in the region. Some EU countries could take a leaf out of Georgia’s book. You can create your enterprise (included setting up a bank account and registering the company) in one day. Corporate taxes are business-friendly by being low. A lot remains to be done in the country, particularly in the industrial sector, so there are many opportunities awaiting investors.

CONS: The market deals with just four million consumers. That is a small market. Therefore, the fixed costs which are the same for any company at the beginning could make investors reluctant to raise their investment, or to invest here at all. Moreover, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia has been lacking of a powerful industry, and nowadays, companies find it hard to hire skilled workers. But this is beginning to change. Education is high on the government agenda- witness the university partnership with the French government signed in May, focusing on the food-industry, industry and digital technologies. But currently, even in the hospitality business, companies might entice away a competitor’s skilled workers.

FRENCH INVESTMENTS: Right now, the focus is the industrial sector, with three main French companies. Lactalis has a subsidiary here and recently became shareholders of Sante, one of the national market leaders in milk and dairy production in Georgia. The Atlantic Group (water heater and conditioning), which invested 45 million GEL, is strongly implanted here. Carrefour, a franchisee, is also succeeding in the local market. We can think about Renault and Peugeot (car resellers) and all the pharmaceutical laboratories like Sanofi and Servier. About the projects to come, there may be an important investment in hydro energy as well as several projects in cattle breeding for a total investment of 6 million GEL.

Antoine Bardon co-founded the Salve Association which aims to reduce food waste and to provide shelter and food to street children in Tbilisi.

By Antoine Dewaest

30 July 2018 18:28