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China, Georgia eye greater cooperation on Silk Road Economic Belt initiative

Updated: Jun 4,2016 9:32 AM     Xinhua

Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli meets with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili in Tbilisi, Georgia, June 3, 2016.[Photo/Xinhua]

TBILISI — China and Georgia agreed on June 3 to conduct deeper cooperation on China’s initiatives of building Silk Road Economic Belt, vowing to speed up FTA negotiation.

The consensus was reached during Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli’s respective meetings with president and prime minister of the Transcaucasian country.

In the meeting with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Zhang hailed the traditional friendship with Georgia and the achievements scored on bilateral relationship since the establishment of diplomatic ties 24 years ago.

“It is in line with both countries’ fundamental interests to develop bilateral relationship featuring equality, friendliness and mutually beneficial cooperation,” Zhang said.

Speaking highly of the good geographical location and sound investment environment of Georgia, Zhang said the two countries are economically complementary to each other.

Georgia’s national strategy of turning itself into a logistic and transport hub coincides with China’s initiative of building Silk Road Economic Belt, said Zhang, encouraging both sides to take it as an opportunity to synergize each other’s strategies so as to provide platforms for expanding substantial cooperation.

He called on both countries to explore cooperation on hydro-electricity, automobile, locomotive, mechanical and electronic products in the hope of cultivating a new growth point of production capacity cooperation.

Margvelashvili said the Silk Road Economic Belt initiated by China is of great significance to Georgia.

Georgia is willing to give full play to its unique geographic location and enhance cooperation with China in areas including railway transportation, port and road construction, the president said, adding that Georgia welcomes more Chinese enterprises to invest in the country.

Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli meets with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili in Tbilisi, Georgia, June 3, 2016.[Photo/Xinhua]

During the talks with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Zhang spoke positively of the progress made in building up Silk Road Economic Belt since the first forum on Silk Road was held in Tbilisi last October.

China would like to see Georgia continue to take the advantage of its location, resources and talents and be more involved in the construction of Silk Road Economic Belt, so as to promote regional cooperation and achieve common development and prosperity, Zhang said.

He called on both sides to strengthen top-level design, focusing on major projects, investment and financing, and enhancing production capacity cooperation.

Kvirikashvili, for his part, said Georgia appreciated China’s long-term assistance to its economic development.

Calling China an influential country and one of the major economies in the world, Kvirikashvili said Georgia attaches great importance to developing ties with China.

On the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiation, Zhang urged for an early establishment of FTA and a better trade and investment environment.

The vice-premier suggested both countries should focus on cooperation in the fields of transportation infrastructure cooperation, telecommunication, agriculture and wine trade.

Kvirikashvili said his country is ready to speed up negotiation process together with China in order to deepen cooperation in various fields.

After the talks, Zhang and Kvirikashvili witnessed the signing of a series of documents.

A memorandum of understanding was reached by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) and the Georgian Economic Department in December 2015 to begin the FTA negotiations.

According to China’s MOC, China and Georgia have completed a second round of talks for an FTA on May 13 in Beijing.

The two sides discussed issues including goods and service trade, intellectual property rights and trade facilitation, reaching consensus on parts of the agenda, the MOC said. The third round is scheduled to be held in July in Tbilisi.

On the cultural and people-to-people cooperation, Zhang encouraged both sides to fully explore potentials on tourism, culture, education and science and technology in order to cement the foundation of public support.

The vice-premier also called for close communication and cooperation on international and regional issues.

Margvelashvili said Georgia will adhere to the one-China policy.

Zhang arrived in Tbilisi on June 2 from Azerbaijan. He is scheduled to stay here for three days and leave for Armenia on Jun 5.

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