United National Movement member, Zaza Bibilashvili, on air on Rustavi 2,

stated: "Ivanishvili used to say that people in China do not drink wine at all and Saakashvili was brainless for looking toward the Chinese market. Today, the Government of Georgia says that the opening of the Chinese market is its greatest achievement."


took interest in the accuracy of the statement.

In 2011, in his interview with the internet portal, geworld.ge, Bidzina Ivanishvili stated that Georgians were unable to export wine to Russia owing to the policy as it was whilst, at the same time, the government was looking at the Chinese market even though the Chinese do not drink wine. Mr Ivanishvili assessed the former government’s policy of market diversification (one of the examples was China) as a wrong step.

According to the 2015-2016 data of the National Wine Agency of Georgia, China is among the top five destinations for Georgia’s wine exports.

Table 1: 

Value of Wine Exported to Russia and China (USD thousands) and Share in Total Exports

  China Russia Value of Exported Wine Ratio of Wine Exported to China in Total Exports Ratio of Wine Exported to Russia in Total Exports
2010 679.6 41,137 .7 2%
2011 1,959.5 54,086.9 4%
2012 3,782.3 64 827.7 6%
2013 3,296.1 56,357.6 127,850.9 3% 44%
2014 4,534.0 107,239.2 180,387.8 3% 59%
2015 8,406.6 42,574.8 95,795.7 9% 44%
2016 (four months) 2,200.2 14,374.9 29,385.9 8% 49%

According to the information of the National Wine Agency of Georgia and its data for the first three months of 2016, the top five destinations for Georgian wine exports are: Russia – 4,077,797 bottles, Ukraine – 1,088,862 bottles, Kazakhstan – 784,844 bottles, Poland – 443,208 bottles and China – 371,295 bottles.

As illustrated by the table, the export of Georgian wine to Russia resumed in 2013. The amount of income received from wine export to Russia in 2013-2016 equalled 51% of the total income received from wine export. However, as compared to 2014, wine export to Russia has been declining in the previous years.

In regard to the share of income received from wine export to China, it was 2%-6% in the period of 2010-2012 and 3% in 2013 and 2014. According to the data for 2015 and the first four months of 2016, the share of wine export to China constitutes 9% of the total wine export. In 2015, 2,672,154 bottles of wine were exported to the Chinese market which constituted a growth of 122% as compared to the previous year.

Representatives of the Government of Georgia have emphasised the significance of the Chinese market for Georgian wine upon multiple occasions. The Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, has also made a remark in regard to this topic, underscoring the extreme importance for Georgia to develop ties with the Chinese market.

Conclusion According to the information obtained by FactCheck,

Bidzina Ivanishvili did indeed make the statement that people do not drink wine in China and, therefore, the Chinese market was insignificant for our country. However, at the present moment China ranks fifth in the top five Georgian wine importing countries. It is true that the volume of wine exported to China is considerably less than the volume of wine exported to Russia but the amount of wine entering the Chinese market is increasing annually.

FactCheck concludes that Zaza Bibilashvili’s statement is TRUE.