Russia may lift embargo on Georgian wine

16th November, 2012 by Lucy Shaw

Moscow is considering allowing Georgian wine back onto the Russian market.

First deputy foreign minister Andrei Denisov revealed this week that there is a willingness on both sides to study the issue.

“If we talk about specific cases, it is about a return of Georgian wine in our market. Both sides are ready to get to work on the issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s agriculture minister, Davit Kirvalidze, said that negotiations about bringing Georgian wine back into the Russian market will start imminently.

“They may last two or three months, but there is no need to hurry. What is important is that the negotiations are irreversible,” he said.

Zurab Abashidze, Georgia’s special representative regarding Russia-Georgia relations, will chair the negotiations and wine quality will undergo detailed verification.

Russia is ready to start importing Georgian wines again if it is able to send experts to Georgia to guarantee quality.

Many Georgian wines are still made in traditional amphorae

In 2006, Russia’s health and sanitary agency banned all imports of Georgian wine as it was found to not live up to health safety standards.

Georgia currently exports wine to around 50 different countries.

Newly appointed Georgian Prime Minister, zebra-rearing billionaire Bidzina Ivanishivli, vowed he would mend relations with Russia.

However, government officials claim it will be hard to restore diplomatic relations as long there are Russian embassies in Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Before the embargo was enforced in 2006, 75% of Georgia’s wine exports went to Russia.

Georgia exported $80 million worth of wine in 2005, while in 2007 the figure was reduced to $29m.

Ukraine is Georgia’s most lucrative export market, accounting for $22.5m a year.

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