Strategically located at the crossroads between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, the nation of Georgia shipped US$3.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 71.1% gain since 2015 and a 12.4% increase from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Georgian lari depreciated by -24.2% against the US dollar since 2015 and declined by -11.2% from 2018 to 2019. Georgia’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 77.4% of products exported from Georgia were bought by importers in: Azerbaijan (13.2% of the global total), Russia (13.2%), Armenia (10.9%), Bulgaria (7.5%), Ukraine (6.5%), China (6%), Turkey (5.4%), Romania (4.7%), United States (3.5%), Uzbekistan (2.4%), Switzerland (2.2%) and Kyrgyzstan (1.9%).
From a continental perspective, half of Georgia’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 45.2% were sold to importers in Europe. Georgia shipped another 3.6% worth of goods to North America. Tinier percentages went to Latin America (0.8%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (0.4%) then Oceania (0.04%) led by Australia.
Given Georgia’s population of 3.7 million people, its total $3.8 billion for 2019 exports translates to roughly $1,000 for every resident in the country typically associated with the Middle East.
Georgia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Georgian global shipments during 2019, at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Georgia.
- Vehicles: US$747.8 million (19.8% of total exports)
- Ores, slag, ash: $672.7 million (17.8%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $518.9 million (13.8%)
- Iron, steel: $353.8 million (9.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $181.9 million (4.8%)
- Fruits, nuts: $121.9 million (3.2%)
- Fertilizers: $95.7 million (2.5%)
- Machinery including computers: $92.2 million (2.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $87.7 million (2.3%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $74.1 million (2%)
Georgia’s top 10 exports accounted for over three-quarters (78.1%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Vehicles represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 65% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was ores, slag and ash via a 30.9% gain led by precious-metal ores and concentrates. Georgia’s shipments of fruits and nuts posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 17.5%.
The leading decliner among Georgia’s top 10 export categories was tobacco including manufactured substitutes, thanks to a -53.9% drop year over year
Drilling down to the more detailed 4-digit HTS codes, Georgia’s most valuable exported goods are cars (18.2% of its global total), copper (17.3%), iron ferroalloys (8%), wine (5.9%), drugs and medicines (4.6%), mineral and aerated waters (3.5%), alcoholic beverages (3.4%), nitrogenous fertilizers (2.5%), gold (1.9%) then miscellaneous nuts (1.8%).
The following types of Georgian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: US$437.4 million (Up by 17% since 2018)
- Iron, steel: $158.9 million (Down by -6.8%)
- Gems, precious metals: $81.1 million (Up by 8.7%)
- Fertilizers: $80.9 million (Up by 3.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: $55.8 million (Up by 118.2%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $42.5 million (Down by -46.2%)
- Live animals: $22.2 million (Up by 58.4%)
- Lead: $8.5 million (Up by 17.8%)
- Copper: $8.4 million (Down by -21.7%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $5.8 million (Up by 36.7%)
Georgia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of grape wines. In turn, these cashflows indicate Georgia’s strong competitive advantages under the beverages, spirits and vinegar category.
Overall, Georgia incurred a -$5.3 billion trade deficit during 2019 down -8.3% from -$5.8 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Georgia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Georgia’s goods trail Georgian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$1.3 billion (Up by 0.2% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$769.9 million (Down by -15.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$567.1 million (Down by -2.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$275.2 million (Up by 0.6%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$229.6 million (Down by -0.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$227.6 million (Up by 1.4%)
- Vehicles: -$172.7 million (Down by -53.9%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$149.8 million (Up by 6.3%)
- Cereals: -$127.4 million (Down by -5.7%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: -$119.1 million (Up by 9.7%)
Under the mineral fuels including oil category, Georgia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for particularly refined oils and petroleum gases.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Georgia’s competitive disadvantages in the international pharmaceuticals market, but also represent key opportunities for Georgia to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Georgian Export Companies
Given the country’s tiny size, it should come as no surprise that not one Georgian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list a group of Georgian companies which gives some insight into the types of exports shipped from Georgia. Selected examples are shown below:
- Badagoni Wine Company (wine producer)
- Georgian Industrial Group (energy products)
- Kutaisi Auto Mechanical Plant (trucks, automotive parts)
- MagtiCom Ltd (telecommunications)
- JSC RMG Copper (copper, gold)
- Rustavi Steel (steel products)
- JSC Tbilaviamsheni (aerospace products)
- Wissol Petroleum (oil, gas)
In macroeconomic terms, Georgia’s total exported goods represent 8.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($45.4 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 8.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 7.9% one year earlier. This seems to indicate a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Georgia’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Georgia’s unemployment rate was 12.7% for 2019, same as in 2018 according to the International Monetary Fund.
Georgia’s capital and largest city is Tbilisi.
See also Georgia’s Top Trading Partners
Central Intelligence Agency, Country Profiles, The World Factbook. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 3, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 3, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 3, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Wikipedia, Georgia (country). Accessed on March 3, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 3, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Georgia (country). Accessed on March 3, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 3, 2020