Georgia’s Economic Overview
Diversified Resilient Economy
Leading economy in the region on the back of wide sector activities
- Diversified non-commodity reliant economy with consistently high GDP growth across the last decade
Investment-led GDP growth
- Development of large public infrastructure programmes backed by multilateral international funding driving potential GDP growth.
- Infrastructure expenditures have reached record-high levels in 2019-2022 and stood at 6.7% of GDP in 2022, with public investment set to continue supporting growth in the medium run.
- The resilience and flexibility of the Georgian economy have been underscored by two consecutive years of double-digit economic growth, as the economy expanded by 10.5% y-o-y and 10.1% y-o-y in 2021 and 2022 accordingly. Despite the global slowdown, Georgian economy continues to expand robustly with preliminary 1Q23 growth rate at 7.2%.
Historically low inflation with 3% target set from 2018 by National Bank of Georgia
- Inflation, like elsewhere around the world, was elevated at an annual 11.9% in 2022, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine exacerbated residual price pressures induced by the COVID-19 shock. However, inflation went back to single digits in December 2022 amounted to 9.8% and continued decelerating trend in 2023, with April headline number falling below the 3% target (2.7% y/y). The National Bank of Georgia has started gradual exit from the tight monetary policy and reduced the policy rate by 50 bps to 10.50% as of May 2023.
Liberal economic policy
Top performer globally in WB Doing Business over the past 12 years
- Liberty Act (effective January 2014) ensures a credible fiscal framework.
- Fiscal deficit/GDP capped at 3%; Public debt/GDP capped at 60%. The general government debt has fallen below pre-COVID levels at 39.7% of GDP by the end of 2022 as GEL has strengthened and the economy has rebounded. According to the preliminary data, the fiscal deficit reached 2.9% in 2022.
- Business friendly environment and low tax regime (attested by favourable international rankings).
Regional logistics and tourism hub
A natural transport and logistics hub, connecting land-locked energy rich countries in the east and European markets in the west
- Access to a market of 2.8 billion customers without customs duties: Free trade agreements with EU, China, Hong Kong, CIS and Turkey and GSP with USA, Canada, Japan, Norway and Switzerland; FTA with Israel and India under consideration.
- Tourism inflows stood at US$ 3.3 billion in 2019 and international travelers reached 9.4 million in 2019 (up 7.8% y-o-y), out of which tourist arrivals were up 6.8% y-o-y to 5.1 million.
- Tourism revenues reached 138% of respective 1Q2019 levels in 1Q2023, reflecting the global resumption of travel as well as the migration effect. Despite substantial recovery in tourism receipts, the number of international travelers reached only 75% of 1Q2019 level in 1Q2023, pointing that significant further growth potential remains.
An influx of foreign investors on the back of the economic reforms have boosted productivity and accelerated growth
- FDI stood at US$ 2.0 billion (8.1% of GDP) in 2022.
- FDI has averaged 8.5% of GDP across the last 10 years.
- Sovereign credit ratings were upgraded in 2019 and maintained in 2020 despite the COVID-19 shock. As a result of the improved macroeconomic environment, Fitch Ratings revised Georgia’s sovereign credit rating outlook to positive from stable in January 2023. The agency cited macroeconomic performance, including “exceptionally strong” GDP growth coupled with strong fiscal and monetary discipline, as the main driver behind the improved outlook.
- After repaying 10-year, 6.875% coupon Eurobonds issued in 2011, in April 2021, the Georgian government priced USD 500 million, 5-year Eurobonds at a record low coupon rate of 2.75%, with demand reaching four times the amount of issue, underscoring investor confidence, yielding a competitive edge over comparable countries and providing a favorable benchmark for future securities.
Support from international community
Georgia and the EU signed an Association Agreement and DCFTA in June 2014
- Visa-free travel to the EU is another major success in Georgian foreign policy. Georgian passport holders were granted free visa entrance to the EU countries from 28 March 2017.
- Discussions commenced with the USA to drive inward investments and exports.
- Strong political support from NATO, EU, US, UN and member of WTO since 2000; Substantial support from DFIs, the US and EU.
Electricity transit hub potential
Developed, stable and competitively priced energy sector
- Only 20% of hydropower capacity utilized; 155 renewable (HPPs/WPPs/SPPs) energy power plants are in various stages of construction or development.
- Georgia imports natural gas mainly from Azerbaijan.
- Significantly boosted transmission capacity in recent years, a new 400 kV line to Turkey and 500 kV line to Azerbaijan built, other transmission lines to Armenia and Russia upgraded.
- Additional 2,000 MW transmission capacity development in the pipeline, facilitating cross-border electricity trade and energy swaps to Eastern Europe.
Stable political environment
- Georgia underscored its commitment to European values by securing a democratic transfer of political power in successive parliamentary, presidential, and local elections and by signing an Association Agreement and free trade agreement with the EU.
- New constitution amendments passed in 2013 to enhance governing responsibility of Parliament and reduce the powers of the Presidency.
- On March 2023 Georgia submitted application to join the EU, a move that was originally scheduled for 2024. The European Council granted a conditional European perspective to Georgia. Candidate Status will be granted after fulfilling the set of recommendations.
- Russia began issuing visas to Georgians in March 2009; Georgia abolished visa requirements for Russians – Russia announced the easing of visa procedures for Georgians citizens effective December 23, 2015. Starting from May 15, 2023, visa requirements would be eliminated as per a decree issued by Vladimir Putin. In addition, direct flight ban for Russian airlines (introduced in July 2019) was lifted.
- Member of WTO since 2000, allowed Russia’s access to WTO; In 2013 trade restored with Russia.
- In 1Q23, Russia accounted for 12.1% of Georgia’s exports and 14.7% of imports. While exports and imports to/from the EU accounted 14.6% and 24.6% accordingly.