TBILISI(BPI)- The coronavirus outbreak in Iran and the travel ban with Georgia has a negative impact p on those sectors of the economy with the closest cooperation. In particular, 90% of roads in Georgia are laid using Iranian bitumen.
According to the Chairman of the Georgian-Iranian Chamber of Commerce Vano Mtvralashvili, the main advantages of Iranian bitumen were its geographical proximity and low prices. Now the country should establish alternative supply routes with other countries, otherwise, road construction across the country will be stopped.
“Georgia also imports bitumen from Iraq and Azerbaijan but in any case, Iran was the main supplier due to logistics, ”he explains.
“In general, there is no shortage of bitumen in the world, it can be bought in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia. Now we should look for alternative deliveries since the active road construction season starts now and Georgia needs bitumen in large quantities. Our country does not have large reserves because of simplified imports, ” Vano Mtvralashvili notes.
In Mtvralashvili’s words, apart from bitumen, Georgia imports building materials, ceramic tiles, chemical products, food.
“But all these products are not strategically important, and can be easily replaced. The situation with bitumen is completely different as a delay in imports can suspend the implementation of infrastructure projects, ” Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce says.
Businesswoman Nazi Alasania, who is actively cooperating with Iranian partners, believes that the country should urgently find alternative sources of bitumen supplies, as it sees serious problems with reserves.
“There are proposals from Turkmenistan and Russia, we also import bitumen from Azerbaijan, but its quality is lower. The quality of Russian bitumen is better than the Iranian one, but the problem is an advance payment that we can’t afford, ” she notes.
Alasania adds if the government helps business in prepayment, they will start importing bitumen from Russia in the coming days.
“We have bitumen reserves only for 2-3 weeks, we intend to go to the Tbilisi City Hall and offer the state a new scheme for the purchase of bitumen. the border with Iran will most likely be open by the end of the month and cooperation can be restored,” Alasania adds.
Georgia does not have a land border with Iran – automobile communication between the countries is carried out through Azerbaijan and Iran. due to the anti-coronavirus travel ban, up to 60 trucks carrying Iranian agricultural products from Iran to Russia have been accumulated on the Georgian-Armenian border.