Georgian PM reveals “urgent” plans for international investment, state participation in Anaklia deep-sea port

PM Garibashvili said the Anaklia deep sea port would be 51 percent owned by the state after its completion. Photo: PM's press office, 12 Dec 2022 - 15:30, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Monday announced the Government was planning to “urgently” launch an international competition for selecting investors to complete the Anaklia deep-sea port on western Georgia’s Black Sea coast, adding the project would also involve state participation.

Garibashvili said at today’s Government meeting the facility - the construction of which originally started in 2017 by a private party before controversy between its investor and the Government led to suspension of the major infrastructural project - would be 51 percent owned by the state after its completion.

We will announce the international competition and select partner companies", he told the meeting, decrying the “abandoned” and “desolate” state of the construction near the administrative boundary with the Russian-occupied Abkhazia region in the north-west. 

You know very well what is happening in Anaklia - they have turned the place into a nest of dust. This is categorically unacceptable. We urgently need to select international partner companies and we also need to start investing in this project. This project will be implemented with our participation. The state will implement this project together with foreign or other companies", Garibashvili said, noting the project was "an important priority” for the Government.

The Anaklia Development Consortium was responsible for implementing the original project, however the Government cancelled the agreement with the company on January 9, 2020, after the latter proved unable to obtain the required $2.5 billion in funds to construct the port. The Government had granted the Consortium postponements of the funding deadline six times before the cancellation.

Despite this, the investor was still unable to attract investments [...] After four to five years they dropped this project and failed to implement it. Since then these people have decided to rob our country - they sued the country, took the case to arbitration, and today they are disputing $1.5 billion”, the head of the Government said.

“In five years, the investor failed to fulfil any of its obligations, abandoned the project, did not build the port, and today owes our country and people $1.5 billion. This is a classic robbery scheme", Garibashvili claimed.

The Consortium and major foreign investor Bob Meyer filed independent arbitration claims against Georgia in 2020 over alleged infringement of rights in the project. 

The consortium and Meyer were demanding restitution of their rights and compensation for damages caused to the Consortium as a result of what they said was a Government-led campaign aimed at preventing the project from being implemented by the company.

Garibashvili also highlighted the recent Government push for exploring the expansion of the Poti Port, a facility on the Black Sea coastline between the projected Anaklia location and Batumi in the south, and noted the importance of attracting “additional investments" in the latter.

The PM said he had met managers and owners of the Poti infrastructure last week and promised “full support” in the initiative for expanding its capability.