The sponsor of the huge Anaklia deep sea port project in Georgia has told GTR that it will have a “major impact” on trade in the region.

The Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC) was this month awarded the contract to build a US$2.5bn deep sea port in Anaklia, a seaside resort in Western Georgia. By 2020, the new facility is set to be a major hub on China’s Maritime Silk Road, one of the spokes on the One Belt One Road initiative.

CEO Levan Akhvlediani tells GTR that the company met with the president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Jin Liqun, and “will be approaching the AIIB for potential debt financing shortly for our project”.

He says: “The ADC is financing the nine stage project through a mix of equity and debt from private and institutional investors. The cost of the first stage is between US$550 and US$600mn. Additionally, the government of Georgia has committed US$100mn to develop the hinterland connections leading to the port, namely rail and road.”

The consortium has already been approaching potential lenders and equity investors, and has begun the process of sourcing international terminal operators for the project, with preferred candidates expected to be in place within four months.

The ADC is a joint venture between TBC Holding, which is based in Georgia, and Conti International, a US infrastructure developer. The consortium also includes port designer Moffatt & Nichol and the port transaction advisor Maritime and Transport Business Solutions from the Netherlands.

Upon completion, the port will have the capacity to process 100 million tonnes of cargo per year, which could boost Georgia’s GDP by 0.5%. This will also act as a boost for regional trade, with the port acting as a connection for trade between Europe and Asia.

“The deep sea port will enable efficient vessel and container handling which will save costs and boost regional trade. The port will also serve as the main gateway for imports for approximately 17 million inhabitants of the landlocked Caucasus and 146 million inhabitants of Central Asian countries. Moreover, it will serve as the gateway for future trade going through the New Silk Road connecting China and Europe,” Akhvlediani says.

Georgia was one the the first members of the AIIB and its government has been very vocal about the potential role it will play on the New Silk Road. Last year, it co-organised a summit in Tbilisi with the ADB and the Chinese government to discuss Georgia’s potential role in the projects and how it can help boost its flagging economy and low investment levels.