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Georgia's exports fell by 16.8%

By Natalia Kochaishvili
Thursday, August 20
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Georgia's exports fell by 16.8% to $ 1.76 billion. According to a report released by the National Statistics Office (Geostat), exports of 6 of the country's 10 largest export products fell. Among them, the sharpest decline is observed in exports of automobiles (-42.2%) and exports of pharmaceuticals (57.7%).

Rating of the 10 largest export goods of Georgia in the first 7 months of 2020 is as follows: Copper ores and concentrates - $ 391.3 million, an increase of 7.5% over the previous year; Cars - $ 198.5 million, a decrease of -42.2% over the previous year; Ferroalloys - $ 130 million, a decrease of -33.5% over the previous year; Natural grape wines - $ 107.3 million, a decrease of -5.6% over the previous year; Precious metal ores and concentrates - $ 70.3 (no exports of these goods were registered in the previous year); Mineral and freshwater - $ 59.5 million, a decrease of -22.9% over the previous year; Medicines - $ 52.8 million, a decrease of -57.7% over the previous year;

Nitrogen Fertilizers - $ 52 million, decrease compared to the previous year - 9.6%. Other goods - a total of $ 581 million, a decrease of 21.3% over the previous year. The export of alcoholic beverages and gold has increased over the previous year - $ 64 million, an increase of 10% for alcohol and $ 50.8 million, an increase of 29.4% for gold.

In total, Georgia's trade turnover in January-June amounted to $ 6 billion, which is 17.6% less than the previous year. Of this, exports were $ 1.76 billion (down 16.8%) and imports were $ 4.27 billion (down 17.9%).

The re-export of automobiles is an industry that has been hit hard by the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. According to Geostat, in July 2020, only $ 14.45 million worth of cars were exported from Georgia abroad, which is $ 45.8 million, or 76% less than in the same period of 2019.

The decrease by individual countries is as follows: Azerbaijan - exports $ 8 million, a decrease of 63% over the previous year; Ukraine - exports $ 211 thousand, a decrease of 97%; Armenia - exports $200 thousand, a decrease of 99%.

In total, in the period January-July, $ 198 million cars were exported from Georgia during this period, which is 42.2% less than in 2019.

Re-export of cars from Georgia has increased at a high rate in the last few years. During 2019, the export of passenger cars from Georgia increased by 68% and reached $ 686.7 million.

Domestic exports ($ 1.08 billion) accounted for 61.6% of total exports and decreased by 2% compared to January-July last year.

According to the Geostat report, in January-July 2020, the share of the ten largest countries in the total domestic exports of Georgia amounted to 77.7%. The largest exporters are Russia ($ 206.9 million), Bulgaria ($ 142.8 million) and China ($ 118.3 million).

In the first 7 months of this year, the largest amount of exports of goods produced in Georgia - 19.1% ($ 206.9 million) went to Russia, which is 19.8% less than in the same period last year.

The top 5 domestic exports to the Russian Federation are as follows: Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and vinegar - $ 111.0 million; Ferrous metals - $ 57.7 million; Edible fruits and nuts - $ 18.4 million; Vegetables and some edible roots and tubers - $ 4.5 million; Coffee, Tea, Mate, and Spices - $ 2.9 million.

According to Geostat, in 2020 goods worth $ 229.1 million were exported to the Russian Federation, of which 90.3% were export goods produced in Georgia.

Geostat has also published indicators of the economic activity of the population. According to statistics, the unemployment rate increased by 0.9% compared to the same period last year and equaled 12.3 %.

The share of employees in the second quarter of 2020 is 48.6 % of the total number of employees, which is 1.6% less than in the second quarter of last year. Accordingly, 51.4% of the total number of employees are self-employed.

Unemployment rates in rural areas are much lower than in urban areas. In the second quarter of 2020, compared to the same period last year, the unemployment rate in urban areas increased by 2.3%, while in rural areas decreased by 0.3%.

In April, May, and June of this year, an average of 114.6 thousand citizens benefited from GEL 200 assistance (to compensate for job loss), but according to Geostat, in the second quarter of 2020, the number of employees was reduced by only 31.5 thousand compared to the first quarter.

It is noteworthy that the 12.3 % unemployment rate is due to the rather large number of self-employed, most of whom live in rural areas and are engaged in their farms. Geostat considers self-employed all people who work in their enterprise or on their farm and have an income. According to the methodology of the International Labor Organization, for a person to be considered employed, it is not necessary for him to have a long-term employment contract or to be hired by anyone. Agricultural workers, tutors, babysitters, private taxi owners, retailers, etc., if they worked for at least one hour during the first 7 days of the survey to earn income (salary, natural income, profit, etc.). are considered employees according to the International Labor Organization and accordingly the Geostat methodology. Employees are those who have a job but do not work temporarily for various reasons. Also, persons who work in their family enterprise without any remuneration (free of charge).

Geostat plans to move to a new labor force survey methodology that excludes those who use the bulk of their products for personal consumption.