Commentary: Deep trade ties and influence of the European Union extend over Georgia
This review was written by John E. Parkerson Jr., international lawyer, Hungarian Honorary Consul General in Georgia and Secretary of the Atlanta Consular Corps.
Especially on the eve of Europe Day observances, it is clear that the European Union and the United States have the largest and most integrated business relationship in the world.
What is less appreciated is how vital it is Georgia and the Southeastern United States have become these bilateral relations – and how a growing number of EU member states are recognizing this centrality by opening and later strengthening diplomatic missions in the state and region.
Atlanta is an unrivaled gateway city that is home to six career EU consulates, but many (often smaller) European Union member countries rely on 18 honorary consuls to deliver their messages on trade, tourism and investment, and to look after the affairs of their expatriates based here.
Honorary consuls are diplomats accredited by the US Department of State, but they are often natives or long-time citizens of the state they serve in the country that appointed them.
Take me for example: although I was born and reside in Atlanta, I grew up in South georgia never imagined that one day I would do it exercise the functions of honorary consul general of Hungary, a relatively small European country seeking to navigate the ins and outs of its various economic sectors, from automotive to IT, including agricultural trade. Coming from Tifton doesn’t hurt when it comes to selling farm produce.
Other honorary consuls appointed by the EU are scattered from Augusta in Atlanta and Builder at Marietta and points beyond. Geographically, Georgia hosts representations of EU members from Ireland and France form western Europe, to Bulgaria and Cyprus in the East; of Finland and Sweden to the north, to Italy and Malta South. Twenty-four of the 27 EU Member States have representation in Georgia. Only Croatia, Slovakia and Portugal, who will soon assume the presidency of the Council of European union, lack consular presence in the state.
With the recent closing of International Trade Month in May, it is worth highlighting Georgia’s privileged position with regard to consular representation of EU members and how this promotes economic development.
In total, EU member countries represent a market of some 446 million Europeans according to recent figures cited earlier this month by the Consulate General of the Netherlands. Countries comprising some 96 percent of this population are covered by consular representations in Georgia – 195 million people covered by the six career consulates and 232 million covered by honorary consulates.
This is a staggering market for Georgian businesses, and even many companies that are already taking advantage of Europe’s business opportunities may be unaware of how consulates in their own backyards can become vehicles of political clarity, of delegations. commercial and commercial relations. Honorary consulates have, in some cases, helped pave the way for countries to open up full diplomatic missions, as in the case of India, Brazil and most recently the Netherlands – the newest career consulate in Georgia.
EU countries represented in Georgia account for roughly $ 10 billion of Georgia’s $ 38.8 billion in merchandise exports to the world in 2020, and law firms like mine and other service providers add billions of dollars more to service exports, thus completing a multidimensional partnership between the US and the EU that also has important implications for global security and technical standards.
As we approach the middle of 2021, the first trade news points to continued growth in bilateral trade between Georgia and the EU.
Most of the credit rightly goes to internationally active companies – especially European subsidiaries in Georgia – who have navigated a rapidly changing global business environment despite pricing uncertainties and a pandemic that has reduced transatlantic travel. They demonstrate daily to their parent companies in Europe and elsewhere the benefits of healthy bilateral trade with Georgia.
But the state also benefits from a deep and diverse diplomatic corps committed to bridging global opportunities with the state and the communities in which they serve.
John E. Parkerson Jr. is Hungarian Honorary Consul General in Georgia and secretary of the Atlanta Consular Corps. He is legal counsel at Hall Booth Smithcomputer