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Syndrome of messing around in free zone2010-08-03 13:12
Over this year this is Rakia's (Arab holding) third statement on postponement of the free zone opening in Poti allegedly for formal reasons. Only few believed in this Oriental tale. Some explain that the project is stuck because the investors are not interested; others account it for the Arabian side's non-compliance with the obligations. GeorgiaTimes tried to find out the stage of project implementation and the outlook in a talk with Georgi Khukhashvili, an expert on economic issues, and Patrick Jung, a member of Association of German business in Georgia.
The project of a free industrial zone and a new port in Poti realized by RAK Investment Authority (RAKIA), an investment agency from the Arab Emirates was adopted by the government in 2008. There has only been a series of postponements ever since...
The Arab side presented rather valid arguments: such a large-scale event must be attended by a sheik who can't come in July. Besides they don't have a representative in Georgia so far. Most experts consider these words as an attempt to disguise a sad fact that the zone in Poti is not much of an attraction for investors.
According to Business Georgia web portal, the following companies are registered in the zone: Araw Tomorrow, South Korea's LG as well as some Armenian, Azerbaijani and Turkish firms though it's only Tbilcement that is really operating. It doesn't look so international, does it?
-Actually it is very difficult to speak about figures in implementation of this project: these are specific relationships between people that are hard to make out. Besides, all the information on projects like this one is confidential, - Georgy Khukhashvili says.
The expert believes that the reason of delay in the opening is the obligations that the operator has not complied with:
- The Arabs are messing around without doing anything in particular. I don't see an infrastructure that would be worth being opened and that would lure a serious investor. It takes a lot of investment to promote a natural port though presently the initial technical project has not been implemented yet. As for the opening, the ribbon can be cut even in a green filed. The problem is not a sheik that hasn't arrived; it's the zone that does not exist yet.
A natural question appears: why has the operator failed to prepare the infrastructure for the opening?
- I personally believe that investors are not highly interested to implement the project as soon as possible since the free industrial zone could become a competitor to Dubai free zone.