By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran continuously implement joint measures to facilitate cargo traffic via International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
INSTC will not only expand trade and economic relations between the three countries, but will also contribute to the development of other countries in the region, which will implement export-import operations along the route.
Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran have agreed to set up a working group to eliminate infrastructure restrictions and remove administrative barriers in the transportation of people and goods along the western route of the INSTC.
The decision was made at a meeting of transport ministers of these countries, Ramin Guluzade of Azerbaijan, Yevgeny Dietrich of Russia and Mohammad Eslami of Iran, in Sochi, Russia. Sergey Chebotarev, Minister for North Caucasus Affairs of Russia, also took part in the meeting.
The working group will act at the level of deputy ministers. The parties also agreed to facilitate the establishment of joint transport enterprises.
During the meeting, the sides emphasized the need to develop an agreed tripartite digital cross-border transport platform.
They also discussed the completion of the construction of a road bridge across the Samur River on the Russian-Azerbaijani border and the coordination of the development of checkpoints across state borders.
INSTC is designed for the transportation of goods from India and the Gulf countries to Russia, Western Europe, the Baltic and Scandinavian countries. The corridor was established in 2000 with an intergovernmental agreement between Russia, Iran and India. The main purpose of the agreement is to increase the efficiency of transport communications in the organization of freight and passenger transportation.
The project envisages connecting India with the Middle East and the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe. The purpose of the corridor is to reduce the delivery time to three weeks from India to Russia, as well as to North and Western Europe as the current route takes more than six weeks. If cargo transportation by sea through the Persian Gulf, the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea to Helsinki is carried out within 45-60 days, the delivery time along the North-South corridor will be 20-25 days.
In the framework of the INSTC, Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia signed an agreement in 2005 on the construction of the 375 km long Astara-Rasht-Qazvin railway. It envisages the construction of a new railway line in Iran, which will connect Astara, Azerbaijan to the Iranian cities of Astara, Rasht and Qazvin as well as the reconstruction of an existing railway in Azerbaijan.
The expected volume of cargo along the corridor passing through the territory of Azerbaijan is 3 million tons at the first, 5-8 million tons at the second and 15 million tons at the third stages.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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