Georgia’s capital Tbilisi is hosting the inaugural Silk Road Forum, which is being attended by around 1,000 honourable guests from all over the world and ancient Silk Road.
Years ago the caravans loaded with silk and spices from China were traveling all the way to Europe and British Isles. Today the caravans are replaced by modern highways, railways, pipelines through which modern "silk and spices" - energy, natural resources, manufactured goods travel.
Now China is investing $40 billion USD into revitalising this route for trade.
Through this new Silk Road Georgia will link China to Europe with the shortest way that enabled China to transport cargo to Europe. So Georgia will restore its strategic importance as a transportation-infrastructural hub of the region and will create a transit corridor between Europe and Asia.
Caravan crossing Dunhuang, a city on the old Silk Roadt. Pictures by Li Zhengde and the Dunhuang Academy/BBC.
Today and tomorrow, October 15-16, government representatives from 30 countries, 20 international financial and donor organisation officials and envoys from about 300 large Chinese companies are participating in two-day forum.
The Tbilisi Silk Road Forum aimed to establish a platform for an annual high level meeting where regional partners could get together and explore opportunities, align visions and enhance bilateral partnerships in four main areas of cooperation: transport, energy, trade and business-to-business contacts.
The Tbilisi Silk Road Forum was a joint effort by the Georgian and Chinese governments and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to promote the sharing of ideas, experiences and expertise along the revived Silk Road and beyond.
The event opened today with a welcome speech by the Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili, with a Declaration of Partnership adopted within the forum.
In hosting this forum, Georgia is playing a role it has held for millennia: that of regional hub and centre for exchange. Today Georgia enjoys free trade with all of its neighbours as well as with the European Union.
In addition we rank 15th worldwide for ease of doing business. The opportunities for local and international investors and businesses are great and as yet largely untapped,” he said.
As trade across the Silk Road increases, the opportunities for Georgia, as well as all our neighbours, continue to increase dramatically. By successfully combining our strengths with those of our regional partners and working together to improve the business environment of our shared region, we can build sustainable and exponential growth. This will, in turn, allow us to boost living standards and the wellbeing of our people,” he added.
The first day of the Silk Road Forum featured addresses by distinguished keynote speakers, allowing business executives and policymakers to share their views, experiences and expertise on how to reestablish the historic Silk Road to reinvigorate trade with Asia.
It is very important that talented people from different countries gather in Georgia. And it is also very important that different countries try to better connect with each other. So Georgia follows the right way. This country has shown huge progress in recent times and the Silk Road Forum is one more successful step forward for Georgia,” said famous economist Hernando de Soto.
Meanwhile Georgia’s Economy Minister Dimitri Kumsishvili claimed the reestablishment of the Silk Road would create additional jobs in the country.
Georgia will become a transit country. Many transportation and logistics centres will be built throughout the country so more people will be employed. The Tbilisi Silk Road Forum will strengthen trade-economic relations, attract additional investments, create new jobs and foster the development of participant countries,” Kumsishvili said.