Once a mega-multimillion-dollar hub for car buyers from across Eurasia, Georgia’s famed used auto market is now running out of gas. Hit by sharp devaluations against the dollar and stricter import regulations, sales at the car bazaar are flagging.
“We wouldn't have been able to sit and talk like this, even a year ago. We would have been too busy,” recollected one dealer at the market, located about 30 kilometers south of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. “Now, we just sit here all day; even on Saturday and Sunday.”
Sales began sliding in 2011, when Kazakhstan raised its duties on car imports by adopting the Russia-led Customs Union’s tariffs. The next blow came just last year when Azerbaijan, Georgia’s largest single trading partner, brought its vehicle emissions in line with more exacting Euro-4 standards, thus ending imports of American and European cars made before 2005, and Japanese cars made before 2010.
To read the full story
Matthew Jonathan Miller is a freelance writer based in Tbilisi.