Azerbaijan and Georgia play key roles within “One Belt, One Road” initiative – Hualing FIZ CEO (Interview) (VIDEO)

Georgia Materials 27 January 2022 09:12 (UTC +04:00)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 27

By Maryana Akhmedova – Trend:

Azerbaijan and Georgia play key roles within the framework of the “One Belt, One Road" project, Soso Nibladze, the CEO of the Hualing Free Industrial Zone (FIZ), told Trend.

Hualing FIZ was built by Hualing Group with Chinese investments and began operating in 2015. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Hualing FIZ was able to attract solid investments in 2021.

Some 25 new companies registered here in 2021, Nibladze said.

"One of the most important initiatives of 2021 was a project related to wood processing and furniture production, developed together with investors from Canada and China. This project provides for the production at the FIZ and further export," the CEO said.

Nibladze said the initial budget for this project was $1.5 million, and in general, it is planned to increase it to $7 million.

Also, in the near future, a Chinese company will begin production and export of ferroalloys and silicon metal at the Hualing FIZ. The total volume of the investments amounted to $5 million, and it is projected to increase. Nibladze also pointed to a recycled plastic project, launched at the FIZ in 2021. Investments in this project amounted to about $2 million.

He said Hualing FIZ conducts most of the negotiations with manufacturers of the light industry sector. One of the related projects here involves Germany. In particular, it deals with production and export of textile products. Nibladze said the negotiations on this project (signing the contract) are at the final stage.

"About 2,000 people will be employed once the project is launched, and the total investment in it is about 3 million euro," he said.

Among the projects in the green energy field, Nibladze noted the solar panel production project – the the largest project in this sector on the European continent. The total investments for the solar panel project amount to $10 million. The exports here are oriented towards North America, in 2022.

Further speaking, Nibladze spoke about the Hualing FIZ resident companies, saying their amount is around 80-90, most of which are trading companies, about 20-25 percent – manufacturing companies, and five – service companies.

According to him, Hualing FIZ will also sign an agreement with the Georgian government on the expansion of the zone's territory. This agreement will allow FIZ to increase its area up to 58 hectares. To date, the area of the Hualing FIZ is 36 hectares, and, there are prospects of possible expansion up to 200 hectares, Nibladze noted.

The main export destinations for Hualing FIZ are primarily the countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia, the EU countries, North America, and Mexico, while among neighbors - Hualing FIZ closely cooperates with investors from Azerbaijan, Nibladze said.

“Many Azerbaijani companies expressed their interest in cooperation with Hualing FIZ at the Azerbaijan-Turkey-Georgia business forum. Meetings and negotiations were held. These were mainly Azerbaijani companies involved in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and construction sectors,” the CEO said.

“The issues in global logistics are unlikely to be solved in the near future and will certainly affect our export opportunities. At the same time, we expect that there will be a great demand for exports to regional countries,” he added.

Answering the question about the importance of Georgia and Azerbaijan in the framework of the Chinese “One Belt, One Road” initiative, Nibladze noted that both of the countries play key roles in this project, and such platforms as free industrial zones are no less important when it comes to projects that do with trade turnover.


Follow the author on Twitter: @mariiiakhm