In December, construction work started on one of the most ambitious BRI-related infrastructure projects in central and eastern Europe. The Anaklia Deep Sea Port will not only give Georgia its first deep water port but also provide a new access route to the Mediterranean and western Europe for the landlocked countries of the Caucasus and central Asia.
The port is being developed by Anaklia Development Consortium LLC (ADC), a grouping of multinational enterprises that has been granted a 52-year concession by the Georgian government to finance, construct, operate, market and manage the facility.
Phase 1 of the port is due to be operational by the end of 2020 and will have a capacity of up to 900,000 TEUs (Twenty-foot equivalent container units) and 1.5 million tons of dry bulk cargo. The remainder of the facility, which will take the total annual capacity up to 100 million tons, will be developed in a further eight phases. The total estimated cost of the development is $2.5 billion, while the capex for the first phase is due to come in at $600 million.
The port will be complemented by a special economic zone (SEZ), providing space for modern logistics and light industrial parks on a territory of up to 400 hectares. In the longer term, ADC envisages expanding the SEZ into a new urban centre with industrial, business and service clusters on an area of up to 2,000 hectares.
The Anaklia Deep Sea Port and SEZ will be a key component of the middle corridor of the BRI, which runs from China through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. This year, ADC officially joined the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, an international consortium representing countries and companies along the middle corridor, as an associate member. It also signed a memorandum of understanding of cooperation with Lianyungang port to facilitate the development of the middle corridor.
The Anaklia Deep Sea port not only helps to establish Georgia as a core BRI player but also, as one of just a handful of projects related to the initiative based on private capital and international participation, serves as a valuable model for development along the New Silk Road.