TBILISI, DFWatch – President Mikheil Saakashvili hopes a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU will make unemployment disappear in Georgia.

Saakashvili made his statement while visiting an Abipharm pharmaceutical plant in the village Tserovani near the capital Tbilisi.

EU announced negotiations about a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with Georgia and Moldova last December, but the negotiations have not yet started. They might possibly start in March.

Mikheil Saakashvili says the process will end in about a year and a half.

The leader added that Georgia not only will have free trade with Europe, but also with the U.S.

“Neither Turkey nor Germany has free trade with the U.S. The main issue the German Chancellor raises with America is that Germany and U.S. had free trade and receives refusal to this. The only country into the whole region having free trade in the future will be Georgia. This means that Georgia really becomes the center of production in all directions,” the president added.

U.S. President Barack Obama said after meeting Saakahsvili in January that he had agreed to a dialogue about strengthening trade relations between his country and Georgia, including the possibility of a free trade agreement, but he also said that there was no timetable for working on a free trade agreement.

Officially, unemployment is at around 16%. But official statistics have little trust, and polls show that two thirds of the population consider themselves unemployed.