Overview

Georgian economy performed well in 2017; GDP growth picked up to 4.8%.This boost was largely driven by double-digit export growth that worked to improve the trade balance. Based on preliminary data, it is estimated that the annual export rate grew by 29% year-over-year (y-o-y). According to the National Bank of Georgia’s preliminary data tourism revenues grew by 27% and money transfers also increased by 20%, narrowing the current account deficit. As Georgia’s principal trade partner economies such as Russia, Iran, and the EU are recovering, we should expect to see an increase in Georgia’s export capacity. Georgia has free trade regimes with countries of Commonwealth of Independent States and Turkey; Georgia has already signed free-trade agreements with the EU (DCFTA), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states, and China, and negotiations are currently underway for free trade with India. According to the International Monetary Fund’s forecast, Georgia will maintain the economic growth at around 4-5.5% in 2018-2021.

 

International Rankings

Georgia has improved its status as a free economy thanks to its fiscal policy, regulatory efficiency and open market policies. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business report 2018, Georgia ranks 9th for ‘ease of doing business’ among 190 economies, 4th for ‘ease of starting business ‘and 4th for ‘ease of registering property’. In 2017 Fitch Ratings has affirmed Georgia's Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating at 'BB-' with a Positive Outlook. Standard &Poor’s and Moody’s rated Georgia as ‘BB-’ and ‘Ba2’ respectively. Georgia has been among the top ‘most improved’ countries four times in the past 13 years. Registering a new business takes a maximum of two days and requires no minimum capital requirements. According to the ‘Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom 2017,’ Georgia’s economy is categorized as Mostly Free, ranking 16th across 180 countries.

Georgia remains the least corrupt country in the region. According to Transparency International, Georgia remains the top performer among the Eastern Partnership countries. Foreign investors in Georgia are guaranteed equal rights to those of Georgian citizens. After payment of taxes foreign investors are entitled to repatriate the earnings (income) gained from investments and other funds abroad.

 

Fast-growing Sectors

The fastest growing sectors during the first nine months of 2018 were construction (up 12%), hotels and restaurants (up 11.9%), mining and quarrying (up 7.2%), financial intermediation (up 7%) and real estate operations (up 6.9%).

 

Supply

A total of 197 development projects were completed in Tbilisi in 2018. During the year 11,160 residential flats were added to the local market, reflecting a 30% increase as compared to 2016. 76% of the finished residential flats are already sold. Currently, there are 525 residential projects under development as compared to 580 projects in 2016. These projects will expand Tbilisi’s residential supply by a total of 33,385 flats and 3.12 million square meters (sq m), reflecting a 10% and 0.6% year-over-year (y-o-y) decrease, respectively. At the end of the 2017, 37% of the flats under construction were listed as sold. 143 total construction permits were issued in 2017. These projects include 9,827 residential flats, which is 30% higher than the number of development projects permitted during 2016. Around 22,000 (66%) of the flats being constructed are categorized as low segment housing, while 28% fall in to the medium segment and 5% are considered premium flats. Unlike the trend seen previously, the medium segment’s portion increased, reducing the low and premium segment shares.

 

Transactions reached their highest point since 2012

In 2018, the number of residential transactions rose dramatically to a record 28,000 units, reflecting a 21% increase over 2017. The share of newly-built flat sales (54%) outweighed old flat transactions, due to the large number of newly constructed units that were built during 2017. In accordance with registered sales transactions, the overall transaction volume grew by 10%, reaching USD 1.17 billion.

 

Labor Market Overview

Georgia’s labor force comprises approximately 1,998,300 people. The unemployment rate is 11.8%, which is lower than the 14.8% average over the last decade. As of December 2016, 14.9% of the working population are employed by public sector, while 85.1% work in the nonpublic sector. Georgia’s labor force is well-educated, multi-lingual and relatively low cost.

 

Exports

Georgia’s leading trade export partners in 2017 were Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Armenia, and China. Exports to the EU countries increased by 13% y-o-y and represented 24% of the total exports; Exports to the CIS countries that rose significantly by 60% y-o-y amounted to 43.3% of the total exports.