Ge­or­gian wine in­dus­try toasts trade pact

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By MIKE PETERS in Tbil­isi andZHONGNANin Urumqi Con­tact the writ­ers at michaelpeters@ chi­nadaily.com.cn and zhong­nan@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

A day af­ter China and Geor­gia an­nounced they will sign a free trade agree­ment later this year, Geor­gia’s agri­cul­ture min­is­ter said the two coun­tries’ wine in­dus­tries will quickly be big ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

“Our coun­tries have a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship that goes back to the Silk Road era and be­fore,” said Le­van Dav­i­tashvili, who took a break from Geor­gia’s on­go­ing elec­tion cam­paign to dis­cuss the news with a group of vis­it­ing Chi­nese jour­nal­ists.

“To­day the tar­iff on wine im­ports in China is 48.5 per­cent, but af­ter the FTA goes into ef­fect next sum­mer, it will be zero,” he said.

“But there will be big ben­e­fits for both coun­tries, es­pe­cially for Chi­nese pro­duc­ers who will be do­ing joint ven­tures in Geor­gia. Le­van Dav­i­tashvili,

“We have free trade agree­ments with one-third of the world, in­clud­ing the Euro­pean Union, Turkey and Rus­sia, so ‘ Made in Geor­gia’ prod­ucts will open a great win­dow for Chi­nese com­pa­nies,” said Dav­i­tashvili.

Wang Shouwen, Chi­nese vice-min­is­ter of com­merce, said as ne­go­ti­a­tions on the China-Geor­gia Free Trade Agree­ment will be com­pleted soon, China is will­ing to deepen eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion with more coun­tries along the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment deems free trade agree­ments as a new plat­form to fur­ther open the econ­omy and ac­cel­er­ate re­forms, and as an ef­fec­tive ap­proach to in­te­grate into the global econ­omy and strengthen eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion with other economies.

For Ge­or­gian com­pa­nies, Dav­i­tashvili noted, the wine in­dus­try has a big head start, thanks to an in­vest­ment of about $500,000 his coun­try has made to tell the story of Ge­or­gian wine in China.

“Four years ago, we had a tar­get to be­come 1 per­cent of to­tal Chi­nese wine im­ports, which at that time was about 300 mil­lion bot­tles,” he said. “We have al­ready reached that goal, sell­ing 5 mil­lion bot­tles to China last year. Our tar­get now is to be sell­ing 20 mil­lion bot­tles an­nu­ally five years from now.”

Geor­gia claims the ti­tle of the “cra­dle of wine”, with a tra­di­tion of wine­mak­ing that ar­chae­ol­o­gists have doc­u­mented go­ing back 6,000 years.

The coun­try also has 525 rec­og­nized grape va­ri­eties, but the bulk of wines that go to China are the rich, red-black vin­tages of Saper­avi.

Wine, agri­cul­tural pro­duce and com­modi­ties and the chem­i­cal in­dus­try are all ar­eas that will ben­e­fit, he said.

To­day the tar­iff on wine im­ports in China is 48.5 per­cent, but af­ter the FTA goes into ef­fect next sum­mer, it will be zero.” Ge­or­gian min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture

LI XIONGXIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

A vis­i­tor tastes Ge­or­gian wines at the Eura­sia com­mod­ity expo in Urumqi, the cap­i­tal city of the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion. Geor­gia sold more than 5 mil­lion bot­tles of wines to China last year.

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