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China, Georgia Eye Greater Cooperation on Silk Road Economic Belt Initiative

China and Georgia agreed 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 Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli’s respective meetingswith president and prime minister of the Trans Caucasian 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 relation ship 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 withChina’s initiative of building Silk Road Economic Belt, said Zhang, encouraging both sides totake it as an opportunity to synergize each other’s strategies so as to provide platforms forexpanding 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 pointof production capacity cooperation.

Margvelashvili said the Silk Road Economic Belt initiated by China is of great significance toGe orgia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kvirikashvili said his country is ready to speed up negotiation process together with China inorder 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 Chinese 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 anFTA on May 13 in Beijing.

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

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

The vice premier also called for close communication and cooperation on international andregional issues. Margvelashvili said Georgia will adhere to the one-China policy.

Zhang arrived in Tbilisi on Thursday from Azerbaijan. He is scheduled to stay here for threedays and leave for Armenia on Sunday.