|Economy News in Brief for March 24, 2008|
|March 24, 2008|
Speculation over Poti tender
Part of the government’s efforts to make Georgia a “financial center” in the South Caucasus is the plan to turn the Black Sea port of Poti into a Free Economic Zone (FEZ).
Last summer, a tender was announced for management rights to the port and 400 hectares of adjacent land for a 49-year term. The competition has since been narrowed down to four companies, with the final winner expected to be announced soon. However, some independent analysts have criticized the Poti FEZ project, most vocal among them independent MP Lado Papava, a former economy minister. Papava says that creating a FEZ in Poti may encourage investment there, but at the expense of the rest of the country. “While Georgia suffers from a lack of investment, it is a bad idea to create FEZs…even local entrepreneurs would invest only in FEZ areas, meaning Poti will flourish but at the expense of Rustavi, Kutaisi, Akhalkalaki and so on,” he told local business newspaper Georgian Business Week. He also says that giving regions special economic status may only isolate them, worrisome for a country that is already dealing with two separatist regions.
Today Georgian Finance Minister Nika Gilauri and Chinese ambassador to Georgia Wang Kaiwen signed an agreement on technical and economic cooperation between two countries. According to the Finance Ministry, Chinese government will allot 20 million CNY (nearly $2.8 million) as a gratis aid. The sum will be used for implementation of those technical and economic projects, which will be agreed by the governments of these two countries. It should be mentioned that in terms of technical and economic cooperation between Georgia and China, an agreement on interest-free loan of 30 million CNY was signed in the year 2001, while an agreement on grant of 20 million CNY was signed in 2006. As the Ministry informs, the mentioned sums (50 million CNY in total) are used for purchasing customs equipment for income service of the Georgian Finance Ministry.
Telecom Georgia made contract with the Russian company MTT
Russian Company MTT (Inter-Regional Transit Telecom) signed contract on direct connection of the communication network with the Georgian national telecommunication operator Telecom Georgia. MTT press service reports on it. Under the contract done on direct connection of the MTT networks in Tbilisi, Telecom Georgia will become MTT partner in the field of transfer of voice traffic from Georgia to Russia. Telecom Georgia is the national communication operator of Georgia founded in 1994. Telecom Georgia owns main radio relay line across entire Georgia. It provides wide rage of the telecommunication service to the consumers: local, long-distance and international telephony, transfer of both voice and data, access to Internet. Joint Stock Company MTT is the operator of the long-distance and international communication. The Company was founded in 1994 for cooperation between the telecommunication operators’ networks.
Georgia's State Energy Policy in the Natural Gas Sector
According to the Parliament’s Resolution adopted in June 2006, the priorities of the Georgian state policy in the gas and energy sector are: (a) rehabilitation of gas units, (b) release of such units from debts and their privatization, (c) diversification of the gas supply, and (d) formation of a transparent and liberal energy market. By February 2008, Georgia’s entire natural gas sector, with the exception of the main pipeline system and gas generation units of Gardabani (except for those which belong to Inter-Rao), had been privatized. Currently, Georgia receives natural gas from three suppliers, though a long-term contract has been concluded with only one of them – the south Caucasian pipeline consortium. Apparently the Georgian government has only a verbal agreement on gas delivery with the Russian and Azerbaijani public company SOCAR. Negotiations with the two suppliers are being conducted secretly, making it difficult for the public to determine the terms of those negotiations.
New members Joined ICC Georgia
Representatives of two new members of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Georgia joined the ICC Georgia National Committee Board. As BLACK SEA PRESS was told at ICC Georgia, the Banking Association of Georgia and French Business Council were the new members of the Chamber. ICC Georgia aims at promotion of commercial and investment activities of Georgia abroad. The operations of ICC involve large range of activities such as international arbitrage, resolution of disputes, preparation of regulations and rules, self-government and fight against corruption. The Chamber of Commerce of Georgia and the Federation of Businessmen of Georgia are founders of ICC Georgia.
Standard Bank opened new office
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