BAKU, Azerbaijan, Feb. 15
By Maryana Akhmedova – Trend:
The number of Azerbaijani companies is almost a quarter of the total number of companies registered in Poti FIZ, David Ebralidze, the CEO of Georgia’s Poti free industrial zone (FIZ), told Trend.
He said Azerbaijani investors play a particularly important role in the development of Poti FIZ.
Ebralidze noted that most of the Azerbaijani companies at the Poti FIZ are engaged in the trade sector, in particular, those are the exporters of pharmaceuticals, of which almost half, agricultural machinery, electrical equipment, car parts and tires.
Among the Azerbaijani enterprises at Poti FIZ Ebralidze noted a metal tile production plant that has been operating there since 2015. The company became one of the largest suppliers of construction products to the Azerbaijani market immediately after the production launch, he said.
Another Azerbaijani industrial project at the FIZ was launched in 2021 and is engaged in food production. The enterprise plans to export its products to Asian countries and the US.
According to Ebralidze, one of the largest Azerbaijani companies plans to develop in several directions at the Poti FIZ. One of them is a warehouse, due to the fact that there is a constant demand for both storage facilities and ready-made production buildings at the FIZ.
"The company is also interested in construction of lubricant-manufacturing plant,” Ebralidze said.
“At this stage, we are conducting appropriate preliminary investigation procedures related to obtaining a certificate of origin, since the product must be exported to the EU countries with which Georgia has a free trade agreement,” he noted. “We are currently negotiating with Azerbaijani investors, but usually the development of industrial projects takes a lot of time and we will see the results later.”
Ebralidze also noted that the trilateral business forum held in December 2021 became a very important event in the post COVID-19 pandemic period.
“Azerbaijan-Turkey-Georgia business forum provided us the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the representatives of the business circles of Azerbaijan and Turkey,” he said.
Further speaking, the CEO noted that the FIZ has carried out renovation work due to which it was possible to increase the freight turnover of the railway and the acceptance of the oversized cargo.
“Poti FIZ has carried out infrastructural work, in particular, the expansion of the railway-customs terminal, the coverage of which has been completely replaced with fibrous concrete. The main customs terminal was also repaired with a fiber-reinforced concrete coating. We also carried out the maintenance of internal roads and drainage system,” Ebralidze said.
Speaking about the developments at the FIZ over the past year, the CEO noted that the most important projects in 2021 were engaged in the textile production, which is one of the leading sectors at the FIZ.
Among them, one of the important initiatives was the project on textile production, the raw materials for which are mainly imported from China, and the final products are exported mainly to Poland and other EU countries. At this stage, the company employs 35 local residents.The total investment cost of the project was about 1.5 million Georgian lari ($517,241).
Another project launched in Poti FIZ in 2021 was related to textile production. Today, the number of employees is up to 30 local residents with the potential to increase to 40. Ready product is exported to Ukraine, Russia, the US, the EU, and Australia. The estimated cost of the investment was $130,000.
Ebralidze noted that Poti FIZ directly borders the Poti Port, the main crossroads between Asia and Europe, which determines the strategic position of the FIZ in the region.
“Sustainable infrastructure development, the construction of a new deep-water port, and an increase in the number of flights are necessary prerequisites for the creation of an international transit and logistics hub,” Ebralidze said.
He then spoke about a number of new projects in different sectors will be implemented at the Poti FIZ in 2022.
Ebralidze mentioned several initiatives to be launched in 2022, among which a project in the textile sector, one of the leading sectors in the FIZ, will be developed. The enterprise of 6,500 square meters territory will employ about 500 people. The exports here will be oriented towards the EU and CIS countries. The initial amount of the investments is 15 million Georgian lari ($5.1 million).
“At this stage, the building is being renovated, after which the equipment will be delivered and installed. As for the direct release of the production process, it is scheduled for February 2022,” the CEO noted.
Another important initiative of the current year for Poti FIZ is the car parts production facility on a 5,000 square meter land plot. The plant will be built by SDT Georgia LLC, a joint China-Italy venture. The components will be produced from Georgian and foreign raw materials and exported to EU countries, China, the US, and Mexico.
“At the first stage, up to 60 residents will work at the plant, and next year their number will increase to 100 people. The construction of the plant is carried out with Italian-Chinese investments with the estimated investment volume of 10 million Georgian lari ($3.4 million),” Ebralidze said.
Poti FIZ also eyes to equip the copper and non-ferrous metals terminal at the beginning of 2022. The investment cost of the project is $1 million, the CEO said.
“Both local raw materials and raw materials from Central Asia and Latin America will be imported, while exports will be carried out to African and Asian countries. Concentrates will be imported/exported both by sea and by rail. Also, about 20 local employees will work at the terminal,” he added.
According to David Ebralidze, in total, Poti FIZ plans to invest 26 million Georgian lari ($8.9 million) and employ about 500 local residents in two years (2021 and 2022).
The Poti FIZ became the first industrial zone established in the Caucasus and has already become one of the most important platforms and links in the supply chain in the region.
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