The Georgian government will sign on April 15 an agreement with the Investment Authority of the UAE’s Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) emirate on the development of a free economic zone in Georgia’s Black Sea port of Poti.
The Georgian government announced a tender on leasing Poti Port and 400 hectares of adjacent land for 49 years so as to create a free economic zone last October. Twelve companies made bids initially and four were shortlisted in January.
PM Lado Gurgenidze said on March 27 that a preliminary agreement had been reached with RAK’s investment fund.
The initial terms of the tender were also revised, as RAK reportedly was buying 51% of the port with the Georgian government retaining the remainder.
The prime minister also said that in addition RAK would build a new port terminal on a 100 hectare site in Poti. He said USD 200 million would be invested in the development of the project in the next three years.
Speaking at a meeting with local residents in Ozurgeti in western Georgia on April 14, President Saakashvili said the free economic zone in Poti would foster “a revival” of all of western Georgia.
“Tomorrow we will launch a free economic zone in Poti. What does this project mean for me? This project is not simply one more investment for me. I know for sure that this is the revival of western Georgia and Poti itself,” Saakashvili said. “We will hardly recognize Poti in a few years – there will be skyscrapers in Poti like in Dubai, there will be new docks and the railway will be expanded, tens of thousands of new jobs will be created in Poti. For me, Poti means helping Guria, Adjara, especially several mountain regions, and Samegrelo out of poverty once and for all.”