Ge­or­gia to seek hub sta­tus in Belt, Road

China Daily - - TOP NEWS - David Apt­si­auri, Ge­or­gian am­bas­sador to China Con­tact the writer at caodesh­eng@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The na­tion of Ge­or­gia hopes to be­come a lo­gis­tics hub be­tween Europe and Asia within the frame­work of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, a se­nior Ge­or­gian diplo­mat said in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view.

The coun­try’s strate­gic lo­ca­tion at the con­ti­nen­tal cross­roads en­ables it to play an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role in bridg­ing the East­ern and West­ern mar­kets, David Apt­si­auri, Ge­or­gian am­bas­sador to China, said on Wed­nes­day.

“The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has in­creased the im­por­tance of my coun­try,” Apt­si­auri said. Ge­or­gia’s goal of be­com­ing a lo­gis­tics hub has added syn­ergy with the ini­tia­tive, he said.

China and Ge­or­gia signed the Me­moran­dum on Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt Co­op­er­a­tion in March 2015. The two coun­tries are work­ing on an agree­ment on in­ter­na­tional road and rail trans­porta­tion of pas­sen­gers and goods, which is hoped to fa­cil­i­tate the de­vel­op­ment of links be­tween them along the Silk Road.

The re­sources of China and other coun­tries in­volved in the ini­tia­tive will pro­vide in­creas­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for de­vel­op­ment to Ge­or­gia, Apt­si­auri said.

Co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Ge­or­gia and China within the ini­tia­tive frame­work is “full-fledged”, he said. In the past, the bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion fo­cused on con­struc­tion, real es­tate, trade and en­ergy, he added. “Now we have trans­porta­tion, lo­gis­tics, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, agri­cul­ture, bank­ing, tourism and many oth­ers, so the range of new fields of co­op­er­a­tion has been ex­panded.”

Ge­or­gia is the first coun­try in Eura­sia to have a free-trade agree­ment with both the Euro­pean Union and China, which, Apt­si­auri said, is ben­e­fi­cial for Chi­nese com­pa­nies in terms of easy and low-cost ac­cess to re­gional and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

Apt­si­auri said the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ge­or­gia and China is a good ex­am­ple of how coun­tries of different sizes, re­sources and cul­tural as­pects can cre­ate pos­i­tive part­ner­ships.

He quoted Ge­or­gian ex­perts as say­ing ex­ports from Ge­or­gia to China are ex­pected to in­crease by 9 per­cent and Ge­or­gia’s im­ports from China by 2 per­cent in two years. “The fig­ures are not so im­por­tant. The sig­nif­i­cance is the will­ing­ness of the two coun­tries to cre­ate fa­vor­able con­di­tions for trade re­la­tions,” Apt­si­auri said.

“This is also an in­di­ca­tion of the will­ing­ness of the two coun­tries to sup­port a lib­eral and open trade pol­icy with­out bar­ri­ers.”

He said China-Ge­or­gia re­la­tions are “dy­namic” and “ori­ented to­ward the long term”.

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