On 20 June, 2018, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum contributed to the meeting of the EaP Panel on Trade under Platform 2 “Economic Development and Market Opportunities”. Kakha Gogolashvili, from Georgia, represented the Forum at the event, which was focused on discussing the proposal for an EaP Trade Helpdesk and its key elements and modalities of implementation.

Mr Gogolashvili intervened in the meeting and distributed two EaP CSF position papers. The paper on “Facilitation of Trade among EU and EaP states” suggests the enforcement of regional dimension of economic integration between the EU and EaP partner countries as well as between EaP countries themselves. In particular, three types of possible arrangements are described:

  • Regional DCFTA between AA/DCFTA countries and beyond – a regional common economic area – CEA;
  • Establishment of the regional deep and comprehensive FTA between EU and three AA/DCFTA EaP countries a type of EEA+;
  • Establishment of a Common Economic Space (CES) between EU and all EaP countries; The CES will be a multiple speed arrangement, that establishes cooperation and integration in different fields and with different levels depending on the ambition and preparation of the partner states.

The second paper provides the views of civil society on the proposal for an EaP Trade Helpdesk. The envisaged tool is based on the already launched Trade Helpdesk for EuroMed. The document welcomes this similar approach in the EaP as the EuroMed helpdesk has proved to be a very useful instrument of getting necessary information for those interested in trading goods with the EU, including tariff and non-tariff barriers on imports of goods. It also covers trade statistics and facilitates online business contacts by providing information on potential trade partners for the companies.

“The Helpdesk is an excellent tool contributing to more transparency in legislation. However, our concern is that it is too much focused on trade in goods and not on trade in services. This is a growing sector and it is even more complicated from the legislative point of view.”

Kakha Gogolashvili

EaP CSF Representative

The position paper suggests to add to the EaP trade Helpdesk a dimension on Trade in Services and to provide data on trade in services between the EaP countries and the EU. This would allow the customer to become aware about possibilities, exclusions and exceptions in regards to the provision of services in the partner countries and EU, provided by international multilateral agreements and bilateral treaties, as well as by the internal legislation of each particular state (including EU member states).