By Amina Nazarli
In the coming months, Iran and Azerbaijan are expected to launch transporting goods and cargos through the International North-South Transport Corridor, a grand project that will intricately interconnect Europe and Asia.
Tehran and Baku are apparently making efforts to boom trade turnover, which surged by 78 percent to reach $221.2 million over the last year, through the expansion of bilateral cooperation and this effort is expected to boost trade ties between the two neighboring countries.
Mohammad Ebrahimi, economic consultant at Iranian Embassy in Baku, told Trend that the goal of cooperation between the two neighboring countries will be fulfilled in the near future as the construction of Qazvin-Rasht railway segment which is an essential part of a worthwhile project to connect the two countries’ railroads is almost complete and it will come on stream soon.
The two neighboring countries make efforts to connect the two countries’ railways within the same North-South Corridor, through Qazvin-Rasht-Astara route, which is aimed to increase both countries' import and export operations and trade turnover. The construction of Rasht-Astara railway is expected to be launched this year.
They have also agreed to finance the construction of the Astara (Iran) - Astara (Azerbaijan) railway line as part of the North-South corridor, which is forecasted to be inaugurated in the near future. The railway project will connect Iran to the Euro-Asian marketplace after its completion and shortly after completion of the inauguration, the two will launch transportation of goods through the corridor.
Azerbaijan earlier agreed to provide 60 million euros for developing railway facilities in Iranian city of Astara.
To complete the railway links of the transportation corridor, Iran had earlier agreed to construct inland railway segments in northern parts of the country in order to extend its railway network to the border area with the neighboring Azerbaijan through the two cities of Astara on both sides.
The initial plan included Qazvin-Rasht and Rasht-Astara railway segments. In the meantime, Azerbaijan has launched a construction project to extend its railway into Iran’s territory.
However, the sides still need to discuss the financing of the project for the construction of the 164 kilometer-long railway segment linking the two Iranian cities of Rasht and Astara.
The North-South Corridor will connect the railways of Azerbaijan and Iran, which in turn will provide a wider transport connection between India, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
Due to its location on the corridor and role as a transit country, Azerbaijan stands to gain substantially from the North-South project. Firstly, it will bring millions in foreign currency. Secondly, it will give an essential boost to the Azerbaijani non-oil sector. Thirdly, it should significantly improve the transport infrastructure of the region. And most importantly, it will open up access to the Arab Gulf countries for Azerbaijan in the future.
Amina Nazarli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @amina_nazarli
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