AD Ports Group has signed a purchase agreement with Inveco LLC to acquire 60 per cent ownership in the Tbilisi Dry Port, a new custom-bonded and rail-connected intermodal logistics hub in Georgia.

As part of the agreement, the project is expected to be operational by Q4 2024. 

The project, owned by Inveco LLC, is a key logistics hub situated along the strategically important Middle Corridor - an emerging trade lane linking manufacturing hubs in Western Asia to consumer markets in Eastern Europe by leveraging a combination of sea and dry ports located in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Türkiye.

As a key transport and logistics facility in Georgia connecting the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, which are at the heart of the Middle Corridor, the project consists of different integrated facilities such as a container freight station, warehouses and a car storage park. It will act as the point of entry and exit as well as a regional transit point for manufacturers, shippers and consignees moving containers, vehicles and other goods for distribution and storage. The project offers direct westward railway links to Türkiye and to Georgian Ports of Poti and Batumi, which further connect to European Black Sea ports in Bulgaria and Romania, while its eastern connectivity links with different Central Asian ports located along the Caspian Sea via a railway corridor to Azerbaijan.

The development offers significant intermodal logistics capabilities given its location within the Tbilisi airport’s industrial zone which will be backed by state-of-the-art warehousing facilities as well as a cargo and vehicle logistics hub. The project consists of two land parcels and will be developed in phases. To future proof the project, an additional 88,000 sqm of land is available to cater for further volume growth.

The dry port will be completed in three phases. By the end of phase one the handling capacity is expected to reach 96,500 TEUs, with a stacking area of 32,000 sq m, a 2,500sq m quick turnaround warehouse, and a 20,000 sq m car parking yard. Phase two will provide an additional 10,000 sq m of advanced, enclosed warehouse facilities Additionally, with the combination of increased railway throughput capacity, the yard will increase to up to 286,000 TEUs, dependant on market demand. Land plots of 30,000 sq m and 88,000 sq m will be developed in phase three.

AD Ports Group’s logistics cluster, led by Noatum, will operate and manage the facilities, while leveraging capabilities offered by the group’s cross-cluster portfolio and drawing on expertise and capacities of Inveco LLC.

His Excellency Ahmed bin Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State, said: "Guided by the vision of our wise leadership, the UAE Government is focused on fostering international cooperation with strategic and global allies that share our vision for mutual benefit and sustainable prosperity. Consequently, in October 2023, the UAE and Georgia signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which aims to increase the bilateral non-oil trade between our two nations to AED 5.5 billion (USD $1.5 billion) in five years, while accelerating economic recovery and securing vital supply chains. AD Ports Group’s investment in the Tbilisi Dry Port delivers on this objective, which is set to deepen trade and investment ties, develop global trade lanes, and generate market access opportunities for UAE and Georgian businesses alike."

Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Managing Director and Group CEO, AD Ports Group, said: "AD Ports Group is committed to strategic international investments that advances economic growth, job creation and mutual benefit in line with our wise leaders’ vision. By investing in, and operating, new strategic infrastructure and logistics hubs along the Caspian Sea - Black Sea Corridor, AD Ports Group is delivering on our strategy to strengthen global supply chains. As a country situated at the centre of the Caucasus and located along the Black Sea, Georgia is a key destination linking us with our growing maritime and logistics assets in Central Asia and Türkiye, thereby enabling us to serve our customers with cost-effective, streamlined cargo flows and capture significant future trade volumes."

This agreement builds upon growing economic relations between the UAE and Georgia that has resulted in non-oil trade reaching over USD 225 million in the first half of 2023, a 28 per cent increase on H1 2022. Total non-oil bilateral trade reached USD 481 million for the full year of 2022, up 115 per cent from 2021. The UAE now accounts for over 63 per cent of Georgia’s trade with Arab countries.

The Middle Corridor is regarded as the shortest trade route between Asia and Europe, covering approximately 7,000km and requiring a journey of 10 to 15 days. The existing Northern Corridor covers about 10,000km overland, requiring 15 to 20 days, while the Southern Ocean Route spans approximately 20,000km, requiring a sea voyage of 45-60 days. The Middle Corridor is expected to serve considerable growth in container volumes, which has the potential to reach 1.9 million TEUs by 2040.