Egypt’s Fresh Starts $1.2 Billion Georgia Project
Egypt's home appliance producer Fresh began building factories to produce electronic goods as part of a planned $1.2 billion investment in Georgia, equivalent to about 9 percent of the former Soviet republic's gross domestic product, Bloomberg reported.
"We've started shipping and assembling factories as well as overhauling the whole area," Fresh Vice President Mohamed Rafat said in an interview in Tbilisi today. "This will be a three-step process, and total investment will reach $1.2 billion by the end of our project."
Fresh's production will be centered in Kutaisi, Georgia's second-largest city, and will initially employ about 2,500 people. Production of appliances will start in about a month, Rafat said. The Cairo-based company will expand into making textiles, furniture and ceramic goods in the next two years, he said.
Georgia's economy is still recovering from about $1 billion in damage from a five-day war with Russia last year over the separatist region of South Ossetia. Georgia won pledges of $4.55 billion in international aid in the wake of the war, including a two-year $1 billion offer by the U.S.
Foreign direct investment was $1.6 billion in 2008, down from $2.1 billion in 2007, according to Statistics Georgia. Economic Development Minister Lasha Zhvania, said on May 18 that foreign investment this year may exceed $2 billion.
Georgia's recession is deepening at an "alarming" pace as a result of a two-month political protest that has interrupted trade and spooked investors, Finance Minister Kakha Baindurashvili said on June 8.
"We chose Georgia because of its investment-friendly environment, lack of corruption and experienced technical staff," Rafat said, adding that the current political standoff won't affect the company's plans.