Belt & Road delivers Georgian specialty to Chinese dining tables

(Xinhua) 08:17, January 02, 2024

URUMQI, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Having fallen in love with the Georgian hallmark of wine at first sip, Zhang Xinguo decided to bring this exotic flavor to more Chinese people's dining tables in 2013, the same year when the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was proposed.

His business specializing in Georgian wine has flourished and developed into one of the major wholesalers of this product in China, riding the wave of booming cooperation among the BRI partners.

"I went from importing one container of wine in the first year to importing over 150 containers per year now," Zhang proudly stated. The Xinjiang Jiuping Import and Export Co., Ltd. currently sources wine from over ten Georgian suppliers and boasts agents covering various regions across China.

For Georgian and Chinese peoples, the prized wine's journey to the East is emblematic of the deepening and solidifying economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, also serving as a testament to the transformative impact of the BRI.

Meanwhile, an increasing array of high-quality products from Georgia, such as wine, mineral water and dried fruits, are finding their way to Chinese people's dining tables, courtesy of high-quality BRI development.

Frequent high-level exchanges between the respective governments and vibrant interactions among businesses underscore the deepening and solidifying collaboration of the two countries in various domains.

This photo taken on Dec. 6, 2023 shows an exhibition area of Georgian wine during the 2023 Georgia-China Xinjiang Commodity Exhibition in Tbilisi, Georgia. (Xinhua/Pan Ying)


Georgian wine, originating from one of the world's wine birthplaces, is renowned for its high quality, excellent taste and captivating winemaking culture.

More than 103 million liters of Georgian wine were exported to 60 countries and regions across the globe in 2022, and China is Georgia's fourth-largest wine export market, according to data from the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia.

China is one of the most promising and priority markets for Georgian wine, said Iuri Nozadze, deputy minister of the Georgian ministry, adding that Georgia is actively enhancing marketing activities in China and participating in major exhibitions, and hopes to further promote economic and trade cooperation between two countries.

However, initial market exploration in China proved challenging as many Chinese consumers were not familiar with Georgian wine. Zhang tackled this hurdle by organizing numerous tasting events, gradually winning over more Chinese consumers by fostering an appreciation for Georgian wine. "More and more Chinese people found Georgian wine intriguing."

"Friendship, like fine wine, grows richer with time." This saying aptly captures the blossoming relationship between China and Georgia.

In early December 2023, the Georgia-China Xinjiang Commodity Exhibition, held by the Xinjiang Sub-council of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, unfolded in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital.

As one of China's significant wine-producing regions, Xinjiang is also steadily expanding its wine industry. Participating Xinjiang winemakers at the exhibition hailed from various regions, including Turpan and the Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Bortala. Simultaneously, Georgian wine producers showcased their renowned locally-produced wine.

Suliko Nemsadze, head of Georgian wine producer Mtevino, told Xinhua that wine from various regions converge in Georgia, providing locals with the opportunity to taste wine with different flavors and offering enterprises from both countries a chance to share their respective historical traditions and production techniques.

Wine is just one medium driving deeper collaboration between Chinese enterprises and their Georgian counterparts. According to the organizers, several projects involving agricultural products, cotton textiles and cashmere products were signed during this exhibition, demonstrating the multifaceted nature of the two countries' growing partnership.

Zhang Xinguo, head of the Xinjiang Jiuping Import and Export Co., Ltd., presents imported wine at a wine cellar in Urumqi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Dec. 22, 2023. (Xinhua/Pan Ying)


Sino-Georgian cooperation is experiencing rapid progress. During the visit of Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili to China in July 2023, the two nations issued a joint statement on establishing a strategic partnership. In September 2023, Georgia announced a visa-free policy for Chinese citizens.

"This measure presents a significant advantage for effective exchanges and cooperation between enterprises from both sides," said He Ying, an official from the Xinjiang Sub-council of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

For Yu Hua, executive president of the Chinese Chambers of Commerce in Georgia, who has been working and living in the picturesque nation for over 20 years, the recent increase in the number of Chinese tour groups is notable.

"Chinese government departments and local government delegations are visiting Georgia, and an increasing number of Chinese companies are exploring business opportunities here," Yu told Xinhua.

Yu added that Chinese products, especially home appliances and electronic products, have gained influence among Georgian consumers, while Chinese companies are beginning to venture into new fields such as local logistics. "Overall, there is significant room for Chinese companies looking to expand their market here."

Meanwhile, Georgian businesspeople have also sniffed out opportunities in China amid the booming cooperation.

In 2019, Georgian entrepreneur Giorgi Rtveladze founded a company specializing in cross-border trade in south China's Hainan Province. In just four years, he has become the agent for two Georgian wine producers in China and established nearly 10 partnerships in Beijing, Tianjin, Hainan, Fujian, Shandong, Xinjiang and other provincial-level regions.

"The complimentary office space and discounted warehouse facilities provided by the Chinese government's favorable policies proved instrumental in the early stages of my entrepreneurial endeavors," said the young Georgian entrepreneur joyfully.

Amid increasing diplomatic exchanges between the Chinese and Georgian governments, fostering enhanced collaboration across diverse sectors, Rtveladze conveyed optimism about expanding his business ventures in China. "I am increasingly confident in developing my business in China." He also outlined plans to soon explore the Xinjiang Pilot Free Trade Zone, aiming to broaden his sales network.

Chinese Ambassador to Georgia Zhou Qian stated that China and Georgia have a strong foundation for economic and trade cooperation, with China consistently being Georgia's third-largest trading partner. The establishment of the strategic partnership will create more opportunities for people-to-people exchanges, and both countries have great potential for cooperation in education, sports and tourism, among other fields.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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