Georgia is in the grips of its third COVID wave. Its confirmed death rate from the disease is among the world’s highest. Yet despite the daily economic losses caused by the pandemic, the value of exports so far this year has set a record.
Data published by the National Statistics Office on December 13 state that between January and November Georgia exported $3.8 billion worth of goods, which is 26.7 percent more than last year. That also topped pre-pandemic figures: In the 12 months of 2019, the value of Georgia’s exports reached $3.8 billion; in 2018 the 12-month figure totaled $3.4 billion.
January-November trade turnover amounted to $12.8 billion, Geostat said – 25 percent higher than the same period last year and higher than the same period of any year before the pandemic.
Qualifying information is not yet available for those 11 months on what the exports were or where they went, but for the first 10 months of 2021 we do have answers, and there is no reason to suspect November was materially different.
From January to October China was Georgia’s largest export partner, buying 15.3 percent of total exports. Next came Russia (14.2 percent), Azerbaijan (13.1 percent), Turkey (7.7 percent) and Ukraine (7.2 percent).
Over 30 percent of these goods were copper and ferroalloys. Alcoholic beverages contributed 9.2 percent to total exports.
Imports also increased in the January-November period compared to last year, reaching a total of $9 billion, a figure slightly higher than 2018 and 2019.
That has pushed up Georgia’s trade deficit to $5.19 billion. Last year for the same period it was $4.2 billion; between January and November 2019 – before the pandemic – the deficit was a hair lower, at $5.14 billion. Georgia’s highest deficit on record was in 2018, at $5.99 billion for 12 months.
Nino Bakradze is a journalist based in Tbilisi.