Georgia-China Negotiate Transportation Agreement

On July 4, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia released a statement on its website announcing that Georgia and China are involved in negotiations for an agreement on international passenger and freight transportation.

The first round of negotiations was conducted July 3-4, on the text of the Draft Agreement on International Passenger and Freight Transportation between the Government of Georgia and the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The negotiations took place in the Georgian capital at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel. Representatives of the Transport and Logistics Development Department of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, the LEPL Land Transport Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, and the Ministry of Justice of Georgia represented Georgia in the negotiations.

Georgia initiated the agreement after a request by Georgian transportation companies for a legal basis for ground transport with China. In last week’s first round of negotiations, the sides discussed the main provisions of the project and signed a protocol framing continued negotiations. Representatives from Georgia’s Ministry of Economy have been invited to China at the beginning of August for a second round of negotiations, after which the agreement can be signed.

The agreement is designed to “facilitate to increase the volume of passenger and freight transportation between Georgia and the People’s Republic of China and have a positive impact on mutual economic cooperation. The Draft Agreement determines the transportation of the freight transport via quota permits through bilateral, transit or third-party countries. The number of quotas shall be determined by the parties annually and the relevant permission documents will be transferred,” said the Ministry of Economy statement.

In terms of legal issues, the agreement also provides for the settlement of legal disputes between Georgia and China related to motor transport. The Ministry of Economy hails the agreement, saying it, “as well as attracting additional freight flows to Georgia, will be of greatest significance for Georgia.”

Increased motor vehicle traffic and railway-container transportation between Georgia and China will be a key part of the massive Chinese initiative One Belt, One Road. In September 2017, then-Minister of Economy Giorgi Gakharia visited China to meet with Fujian Province Governor, Yu Weiguo, to discuss deepening economic relations between China and Georgia. “2017 is an extremely important year for China-Georgia relations with the signing of a free trade agreement with China,” said Gakharia while in China.

In a speech during his visit, Gakharia discussed Georgia’s transit role in the region, noting that the strategic location of the country enables Georgia to become the central transit platform for the One Belt, One Road initiative, acting as a crossroads connecting East and West. “The Georgian Government pays very special attention to strengthening the transit function of the country and to Georgia becoming the trade and logistical hub of the region,” said Gakharia.

In November, Georgia hosted the Belt and Road Forum, a biennial event that serves as “a platform for discussions of various important issues related to trade facilitation in the region and beyond,” according to the Forum’s website.

By Samantha Guthrie

09 July 2018 18:05