Some farmers in the South Caucasus country of Georgia want to channel Winnie the Pooh: eager to put their country’s free-trade deal with the European Union to good use, they believe honey is “a very good thing to do.”
If everything goes as planned, by this autumn, just over two years after the Georgian government inked an EU Association Agreement, honey could become Georgia’s first animal product (with the exception of small quantities of unprocessed wool) to hit the EU tariff-free.
Officials see this goal as a critical economic priority. The European Union ranks as the world’s largest honey importer, according to the United Nations’ trade database, and securing a slice of this estimated 861-million-euro ($982.6 million) market could help reduce Georgia’s vulnerability to economic and political pressure from its irascible northern neighbor, Russia, which is busy pushing its own trade bloc, the Eurasian Union.
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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance journalist based in Tbilisi. He is a frequent contributor to EurasiaNet.org's Tamada Tales blog.