Azerbaijan, Afghanistan mull increasing cargo traffic via Lapis Lazuli route
By Rasana Gasimova
Azerbaijan is interested in increasing cargo traffic on the Lapis-Lazuli transport route, Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev said on October 11.
“We are interested in increasing cargo traffic on the Lapis-Lazuli transport route and today we discussed this issue with the Minister of Industry and Commerce of Afghanistan. This route has a great importance in terms of product delivery both to Azerbaijan and to third countries. We will continue supporting this route,” Mustafayev stated during the opening of Afghanistan-made goods exhibition in Baku.
Lapis-Lazuli transport route connects Afghanistan via the shortest way to the European and Balkan markets via the Caspian and Black Sea ports.
Touching upon the trade relations with Afghanistan, the Minister noted that the trade turnover increased by 30 percent in 2018, and by 23 percent in the last 8 months.
If we analyze trade relations, it becomes clear that the lion's share of the turnover falls on Azerbaijani exports. The Afghan side has asked us to help sell their products in Azerbaijan. We have created all the necessary conditions. This is the first Afghanistan exhibition in Azerbaijan. I hope that Azerbaijani citizens and businessmen will be interested in this exhibition. This will also increase the turnover, “he said.
The Minister added that Afghanistan intends to present its investment opportunities, and all the necessary conditions for this will be created by the Azerbaijani side.
Speaking at the event, Ajmal Ahmady, the Minister of Industry and Commerce of Afghanistan noted that the exhibition will give boost to the development of Afghan-Azerbaijani relations.
“We intend to develop not only trade, but also transport and transit. Azerbaijan has already become a transport and transit hub, and we want to use it. Today we have been discussing investment opportunities in the upcoming months. As you can see, there is a delegation of up to 50 business people representing various sectors of the Afghan economy, including agriculture, mining, natural resources, health and other areas, “Ahmady said.
The Minister went on saying that the economic relations between Azerbaijan and Afghanistan have significantly improved. He said that the two countries are connected with strong historical and political cultural roots and expressed believe that the events to be held in the coming months will further strengthen cooperation in this field.
Note that the Lazurite corridor was opened in the province of Herat in the west of Afghanistan on December 13, 2018.
In November 2017, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey signed an agreement on the creation of the Lapis Lazuli transport corridor which is set to connect the five countries. National railways and highways already form a significant part of this corridor. The agreement aims to facilitate cargo transport logistics and simplify customs procedures.
The railways and motorways connect the city of Torgundi in the Afghan province of Herat with Ashgabat, then with the port of Turkmenbashi on the shore of the Caspian Sea.
From Turkmenbashi, goods will be able to travel further by ferry to Baku, where they would be placed on train cars and continue westward to Europe across the South Caucasus via the newly launched Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. Further, the corridor will pass through Tbilisi to Ankara with branches to Poti and Batumi, and, then, from Ankara to Istanbul.
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