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Georgian Economy Minister discusses development of Silk Road with Minister of Transport of China

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Wednesday, November 6
Within the framework of the visit to China, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Natia Turnava met with Minister of Transport of the People's Republic of China, Li Xiaopeng.

The sides discussed bilateral economic cooperation between Georgia and China, with special emphasis on the development of transport links, including the Belt and Road initiative.

It was noted that in parallel to the deepening of economic and trade relations, Georgia and China have made significant progress in strengthening cooperation in all transport sectors.

In particular, the sides expressed their hope that the transport links between Georgia and China will be further developed to provide access to key markets, promote mobility and interconnections for the benefit of both parties. Including the development of short and reliable transport routes between Asia and Europe, which is in line with the main objectives of the Belt and Road Initiative.

According to Turnava, the Georgian government is particularly interested in further developing multimodal rail transport and increasing the intensity of regular block trains via the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, (middle corridor).

It has been noted that the use of the middle transit corridor has increased in recent years. In 2018 alone, the number of shipping containers reached 1332 TEUís. Moreover, 1215 TEUís have already been shipped during the 9 months of 2019, which is 25.5% more than it was in the same period of 2018.

The minister noted that the commencement of regular train service from the port of Lianyungang to Istanbul is an important step forward in developing the middle corridor. In addition, in October 2019, a pilot block train departed from the Chinese city of Xi'an to the Czech capital Prague. Xi'an Logistics companies are eager to make this trend regular.

Country's government to promote the middle corridor. These include launching a direct container ship to Ukraine, concluding a memorandum with Romania and Azerbaijan to launch regular freight traffic between Batumi and the Romanian port of Constanta. Work is also underway to increase the frequency of ferry traffic with Bulgaria to ensure smooth access to the Black Sea.

"We have the ambition to make the middle corridor one of China's priority routes for trade with Europe," noted Georgian economy minister.

The Minister of Transport of China also emphasized the potential of the middle corridor and its development, saying that the route has great potential and needs to be used.

Also, one of the important issues discussed at the meeting was the recognition of seafarers' certificates.

According to Natia Turnava, exchange programs in maritime education have already begun between the two countries, and Shanghai Maritime University is already offering scholarships to Georgian graduates.

"Today, we have received a pledge from the Chinese Minister of Transport that the existing exchange programs will be expanded and that maritime universities will offer more scholarships to Georgian students, which is very important," noted Turnava.

The meeting also focused on strengthening cooperation between the countries in the field of civil aviation and maritime transport.