China, the world’s largest economy, has set its eyes on Georgia, a traditional gateway between Asia and Europe, and its investment power could transform the poverty-stricken South Caucasus country’s prospects, some observers believe.
Driven by Georgia’s privileged access to the European Union, and strategic location on the Black Sea, Chinese investment interests run the gamut, and look set to expand.
They could even include a free-trade agreement.
Among the 22 mid-size to large Chinese companies registered in Georgia, a private company from the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi is providing much of the locomotive power for such deals.
Thanks in large part to Hualing’s activities, China has become Georgia’s third largest source of annual foreign direct investment ($195 million in 2014) after the Netherlands and Azerbaijan, according to the Georgian economy ministry.
Since 2007, the Hualing Group, now ranked as Georgia’s largest single investor, has poured $500 million into everything from wood harvesting to mining and high-end hospitality.
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Monica Ellena is a Tbilisi-based freelance journalist.