Georgian Economy Minister Giorgi Gakharia and China Energy Company Limited CEO Zhang Yuzhuo signed a memorandum of understanding on “Strengthening the New Silk Road Initiatives” on January 16 in the presence of Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.
“The memorandum was signed within the One Belt, One Road project initiated by the People’s Republic of China and aims at joint development of a competitive route under the Silk Road project,” according to the Georgian Economy Ministry.
“The goal of the memorandum is to encourage the realization of the potential of the New Silk Road through implementation of joint initiatives, under which the purchase of 75% of the shares of the Poti Free Industrial Zone by CEFC China Energy Company Limited is being considered,” the government’s statement said without elaborating further details of the planned purchase.
“The company plans to further develop the Poti Free Industrial Zone through sharing the best practices of China’s developed industrial zones and attracting investments in the development of processing, modern technology, warehouse management, and logistics,” the statement explains.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Economy Minister Giorgi Gakharia stressed that the memorandum is the “first step” [of Georgia’s participation] in the Silk Road and the One Belt, One Road projects and added that the Chinese investments in the region “need to be largest” in Georgia. “[With the memorandum] we will manage to attract other Chinese companies,” he added.
“Given its experience, performance, and expertise, CEFC China Energy Company Limited can make an enormous contribution not only to the development of the Poti Free Industrial Zone, but to the strengthening of Georgia as a transport and logistics hub,” the government statement concludes.
CEFC China, a private collective enterprise with business activities in energy and financial services, is listed among the Fortune Global 500’s 2016 (No. 229), the ranking of world’s largest companies.
Launched in 2009 close to Poti Sea Port and covering three million sq. m., the Poti Free Industrial Zone was the first free industrial zone in Georgia.
From 2009 to 2016 the enterprise was 100% owned and managed by RAKIA Georgia Free Industrial Zone LLC, founded by the RAK Investment Authority (RAKIA), a government agency of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, U.A.E.
In late 2016 RAKIA transferred 85% of its shares to the state in exchange for discharging the government fines imposed for failure to fulfil the contract obligations, according to RFE/RL’s Georgian Service.