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China wins contract to build Georgia's new container port on the Black Sea

The Georgian government has awarded a 49 percent stake in the future Black Sea port of Anaklia to a Chinese consortium led by state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC). The project will have a container throughput of 600,000 TEU per year, supporting a long-planned “Middle Corridor” of multimodal transport linking China with Europe.

A Swiss consortium also took part in the tender but never submitted its final proposal, according to Georgian Economy Minister Levan Davitashvili.

“This is not China's first major investment project in Georgia, but I believe it will be a milestone for our cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative,” Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Zhou Qian said in a statement.

CCCC's partners include China Harbour Investment Pte., China Road and Bridge Corporation and Qingdao Port International Co. Full details of the agreement with CCCC will be announced shortly, the Georgian government said.

“The application is complete, the relevant bank guarantees are in place,” said Davitashvili. “In a few days we will have further clarifications, after which the Chinese consortium will be announced as the winner.”

The Georgian government claims that CCCC is not sanctioned by the US government, and a senior official told local media that reports to the contrary were “a lie.”

In 2020, CCCC was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Commerce for its role in building artificial islands in Philippine waters, and the following year the U.S. Treasury Department designated it as part of the Chinese military-industrial complex. Taken together, these sanctions imposed limited restrictions on investments in CCCC or on exports or technology transfers to CCCC. These measures are still in place, but they only cover certain types of transactions, and Georgia noted that the restrictions “do not prevent others from purchasing services or goods from CCCC.”

Ambassador Zhou noted that U.S.-backed civil society groups in Georgia have raised concerns about Chinese involvement in the project. “I think if you look at the disinformation about the CCCC that has been spread by some so-called think tanks funded by Taiwan and the U.S., you can see why this disinformation has been spread,” he said.

An earlier plan to build a port in Anaklia was launched in 2017 with the participation of TBC Holding, SSA Marine, British Wondernet Express and G-Star Ltd. The contract faced controversy related to the financial situation of local financiers and was eventually cancelled by the government.

Anna Harden

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