President Saakashvili said on October 26 he was “dissatisfied” with slow pace of entering new markets for Georgian wine and announced about sacking of head of Samtrest, the wine agency under the Georgian Agriculture Ministry.
“I want to say that head of Samtrest [Vasil Managadze] is dismissed; I am dissatisfied; we are moving towards [new] markets with ant’s and turtle’s steps… There is unimaginable potential for our wine,” he said.
Saakashvili was speaking at a live televised meeting with government ministers in Batumi in presence of representatives of the Georgian business community.
“There is unimaginably huge market to sell our [wine], but Samtrest had to work little bit better,” he said and instructed new Agriculture Minister, Zaza Gorozia, to recruit a new head of the agency.
He also said: “Question – whether we will return or not to the Russian market – should not be even asked any more… Why should we depend on maniac Onishchenko?”
Saakashvili was referring to the chief of Russia's consumer protection agency, RosPotrebNadzor, Gennady Onishchenko. RosPotrebNadzor cited consumer safety reasons behinds its decision when it banned import of Georgian wines and mineral waters in 2006.
Less than twenty minutes earlier, during the same televised meeting PM Nika Gilauri said while presenting the government’s ten-point plan for 2011-2015, that Georgian wine exports increased this year to 18 million bottles against 14 million in 2010.
PM Gilauri said that the goal was to increase annual export of wine to 27-30 million bottles, adding that it was possible through entering new markets, including China and Canada.
PM Gilauri also said that the value of exported wine last year was USD 50 million, which he claimed, was higher than in 2005, before Russia banned import of the Georgian wine. He said that in 2005 value of Georgia exported wine was USD 41-45 million.
But according to figures from the Geostat, the Georgian state statistics agency, value of exported Georgian wine in 2005 was USD 81 million; the figure halved following year to USD 41 million after Russia banned import of the Georgian wine in March, 2006; it further declined to USD 29 million in 2007. A tentative upward trend was visible in following years with value of exported Georgian wine increasing to USD 36.6 million in 2008; USD 32 million in 2009 and USD 39.2 million in 2010.
In the first three quarters of 2011 value of exported wine was USD 36 million, according Geostat.