China starts direct flights with Georgia
26 May, 2011
China starts direct flights with Georgia

Direct flights between Georgia and People’s Republic of China are starting soon. Georgian government believes it falls in line with Georgia’s transit role in the region.

The first flight between Georgia and People’s Republic of China will take place on June 9, 2011. The flights will be performed by China Southern Airlines, the World’s fourth largest airline. Urumqi-Tbilisi-Urumqi flight will be performed three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Duration of the flight is about 5 hours.

issue was discussed at the meeting on May 19, 2011, which was attended by the delegation of China Southern Airlines and Giorgi Karbelashvili, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, and Irakli Davitadze, Head of Civil Aviation Agency of Georgia. 
Vera Kobalia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, accentuated that regular flights between two countries will contribute to the future business relations between the countries and will attract new investments to Georgia. Moreover, direct flights are expected to promote tourism between two countries.
Karbelashvili believes the upcoming flights between China and Georgia will be one of the most important flights in the history of Georgia, since the country will once again fulfill its transit duties. 
Direct air-traffic with the China falls in line with Georgian governments recent endeavors to get closer with the number two biggest economic power of the world so as to attract as much investments as possible.
China was the single country who survived the global economic crisis without economic downturn and now has resources to invest beyond the country. And Georgia also dreams to cut a piece of the cake. In October of 2010 Georgian Delegation headed by Georgian Prime Minister took a visit to China to put out feelers. Georgian government hopes that its favorable geographical location acknowledged as the crossroad between Europe and Asia coupled with liberalized business-climate of the country, free trade agreements with all CIS countries plus the upcoming Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with EU may lure Chinese and Indian investors to Georgia.
Georgian government’s expectation develops in two ways: on the one hand they want Chinese/Indian investors to develop transit infrastructure so as to make Georgia as a regional hub, on the other hand they propose to either manufacture or assemble products in Georgia and export the Made-in-Georgia labeled goods to EU ultimately.
It is an open secret that Georgia hardly enjoys the benefits of its GSP+ customs regime with the EU exempting about 7200 sorts of goods from customs tariffs for it has not much for export at the moment. Nevertheless, Georgia is also hopeful to strike a free trade agreement with the EU in coming years. China that is notorious by “annoying” the western world by its export cannot dream for preferential trade regimes with the EU.
Export is one of the most important parts for Chinese economy, however, trade conflicts with western countries happen more and more frequently in recent years. If China and Georgia can make a good combination in international trade business, i.e. processing or assembling of imported materials/parts for further export, it will be mutual lybeneficial and attractive to Chinese investors who may expand export potential through Georgia.
Such mutual partnership may be beneficial to both sides, Georgian economic analysts believe. But to attract Chinese business to Georgia government needs to improve the business-climate of the country through establishing preferential taxation regimes and fair court system.
Head of Chinese delegation stressed the new flight has both political-economic importance as well as touristic significance.


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