“Our dedication is evident in various large-scale efforts, including initiatives and projects Georgia has initiated, or has been participating in, including sectors, such as transportation, infrastructure, energy, trade, tourism, technologies and innovation,” said Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in his address to the China-Georgia Business Forum.
The PM underscored that “Georgia, as a responsible member of international society and an integral part of the Middle Corridor, invests heavily in transport infrastructure development to ensure sufficient capacities for the years ahead.”
“In light of existing challenges, over the past few years, the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, the so-called Middle Corridor, has notably emerged as a secure and dependable route for freight transportation between Europe and Asia. The Middle Corridor comprises of two primary routes – the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway line connecting by land Azerbaijan with Turkey via Georgia; and, the Georgia’s Black Sea ports, thereby establishing a maritime connection to the European Union.
Moreover, this Corridor stands out as one of the most efficient ways to connect the East with the West, offering a considerable time advantage of 20-25 days compared to the marine route. Particularly, through the Middle Corridor, Georgia connects China to Europe, and it takes up to 15 days to bring cargo from the Chinese border to the EU market. Overall, the Middle Corridor’s inherent competitiveness provides access to vital European markets.
Dear Friends, last year we signed a comprehensive roadmap in Kazakhstan – our friendly nation and also with Azerbaijan, outlining strategic measures to eliminate bottlenecks and develop the Middle Corridor from 2022 to 2027. The roadmap encompasses specific actions related to transport and logistics infrastructure development, operational optimization, the implementation of a unified tariff policy, corridor digitalization and enhancements to the regulatory framework.
One of the top priorities for my Government is the coordinated functioning of transport, and modernization and/or construction of transport infrastructure in accordance with international standards. We view the development of such infrastructure as a precondition to facilitate new cargo volumes through Georgia.
The above is reflected in specific large infrastructure projects, such as the Railway Modernization Project, which is underway with the involvement of a Chinese company. Upon completion of this project at the end of 2024, the throughput capacity of Georgian railways will be doubled,” he asserted.
Garibashvili also spoke about the development of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port, calling it “another top priority for the Georgian Government.”
“This is a green-field PPP project to develop, construct, operate and transfer a state-of-the-art deep-sea port on East Coastline of the Black Sea. The Port will be developed in 9 Phases to achieve the annual capacity of 100 million tons. It will be the first Georgian deep-sea port able to handle PANAMAX container vessels and introduce large feeders and direct shipping calls to the Georgian market.
As part of the East-West Highway Corridor Improvement Project, we carried out a feasibility study to explore the need for the development of logistics centers throughout Georgia. Creation of such centers will improve quality of logistics services and strengthen the Georgia’s position as a regional transit and logistics hub,” he stated.
The PM went on to say that the Georgian government” places particular emphasis on improving air connectivity by attracting more airlines with its liberalized aviation market and developing new international directions connecting continents, countries, and people,” noting that the government seeks to develop a new Tbilisi International Airport into a world-class transportation hub with efficient air cargo infrastructure and the aircraft technical maintenance center. “This will position Georgia as a leading player in the global aviation landscape.”
“Recognizing the strategic importance of economic and touristic relations with China, we are delighted that flights between Tbilisi and Urumqi were restarted in January this year with three weekly frequencies and there is a huge potential in that direction.
As we embrace Georgia’s vast touristic potential, we believe that expanding our air connectivity with China will play an important role in advancing bilateral tourism cooperation, further increasing tourist flows, as well as enhancing economic and business relations within industry stakeholders.
One of our biggest goals is to strengthen the transit function of the country through the existing and new high-capacity fiber-optic backbones, linking Georgia to the neighboring, as well as to the European and Asian countries. Therefore, we consider it expedient to promote the digital connectivity of Europe and Asia through the territory of Georgia.
We are considering establishment of the regional digital hub, which, on one hand, includes international connection with the fiber-optic internet infrastructure to connect Europe and Asia via shortest route through Georgia, and, on the other hand, creation of the regional data centers. Elaboration of the advisory service study for the investment attraction and concept for the development of a digital hub and corridor is currently in progress.
I must also mention that my country is rich in renewable energy resources, with hydro resources standing out as particularly noteworthy. Despite having an economically justified potential of approximately 40 billion kWh in hydropower, only 30% of this potential is currently being developed. Therefore, our goal is to maximize the utilization of renewable energy sources, especially by implementing large hydro power plant projects.
That is why, in order to attract investors, a new renewable energy support scheme based on competition and market principles was developed and approved last year. The support scheme involves capacity auctions for renewable energy sources. The new scheme introduces the concept of the Contract for Difference (CfD), which involves compensation for the difference between the market price and the contract price for electricity. This mechanism gives investors a guarantee that they will get a reasonable income for years.
One of the pivotal projects contributing to the Georgia’s green energy production and export is the Black Sea Submarine Cable initiative, which holds significant promise for Georgia’s future energy landscape, as it aligns with the country’s commitment to developing renewable resources and making steps towards a more sustainable energy future. Our neighboring countries – Azerbaijan, Romania and Hungary are part of this ambitious project.
Importantly, Georgia’s long-term development strategies and the above mentioned projects are aligned closely with the objectives of the Belt and Road Initiative (the “BRI”). Therefore, Georgia is actively engaged in the BRI showcasing its commitment as a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the first country to approve its Charter,” he added.