The Conti Group, a U.S.-based global developer has won a tender for the building of a deep-sea port

With its depth of 16 meters and ability to handle mega-ships of 10,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units. Mega-ships currently call primarily in Turkey as the water depth at Georgia’s main port of Poti is insufficient to handle such vessels.

The $3.7 billion project, toward which the government will contribute $100 million, will have an initial capacity of 7 million tonnes (7.7 million tons), but is designed to handle 100 million tonnes when completed in 2020 or 2021. The port is expected to handle its first shipments starting in 2019.

The project also involves modernizing the rail network of Georgia and Azerbaijan, as well as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, located on the other side of the Caspian Sea. These upgrades will be sorely needed if the new port is to handle the huge cargo volumes that the project backers expect.

The government is currently in negotiations with Chinese corporations for these modernization efforts, according to a government spokesperson.

At the same time, it is possible that choosing a U.S. firm rather than a Chinese one for the Anaklia project could be a problem. The loss of the tender was a painful surprise to the Chinese government and the country’s business interests, which in recent years have viewed the South Caucasus as a sphere of influence.

The Anaklia Development Consortium, a joint venture of the Georgian development company TBC Holding and Conti Group, will develop the project. The ADC beat out China's Hubei Hongyuan Power Engineering Company and China Harbour Engineering Company for the tender.