By Nigar Orujova
Azerbaijan, taking into account the lower oil prices, has focused on gaining profit from its favorable geographic location between East and West through developing transportation potential.
TRACECA, a project of cooperation in transportation between the European Union and its Eastern Partnership countries in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, is among the country’s priorities.
Although, Azerbaijan is one of the main actors and the central elements of this transport corridor, a decrease in cargo traffic was recently recorded on the Azerbaijani segment of TRACECA.
The data by the State Statistics Committee shows that in 2014 this figure was 58 million tons versus 59 million tons in 2013. Only 39.3 million tons of cargo was transported via the corridor through the territory of Azerbaijan in January-September 2015, which is 9.3 percent less than the same period last year.
The volume of freight traffic by rail through Azerbaijan part of the corridor reduced by 45 percent – from 8.3 million to 4.5 million tons per year, during 2010-2014.
This decrease is primarily due to the weak coordination between the member countries of the corridor, the imperfection of the procedures and the lack of competitiveness of transit cargo transportation tariffs, officials say.
However, being the shortest route between China and Europe, this corridor is very beneficial for cargo.
Azerbaijan with the support of other member countries of the transport corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia has already turned to the European Commission to support the new integrated project for the development of transit cargo, said Akif Mustafayev, TRACECA National Secretary in Azerbaijan.
He noted that the European Commission recently lost interest in the corridor, and pays more attention to the EU program Eastern Partnership
“Azerbaijan took the initiative and with the support of other TRACECA member states appealed to the relevant authorities of the European Commission,” Mustafayev said. “The question is extension of time of the project on road safety and support for the new integrated project which would address all the technical issues including rates, passage of border procedures, and legislation.”
At present, the appeal is under consideration by the European Commission.
“We are now waiting for the decision on the project. The cost of technical projects is normally vary from three to four million dollars, and it is a small figure for the EU. The project is very important from the point of view of solving transit, tariff and other problematic issues,” he stressed.
Currently, TRACECA member countries are Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Iran and Armenia.
Globalization has led to a significant increase in the volume of trade and traffic flows between Asia and Europe.
At a time when the bulk of the traffic is carried on the increasingly congested maritime routes, the further development of land transport linkages can open additional opportunities for reliable delivery of goods at competitive conditions, according to a report by the United Nations.
Thus, further developing of TRACECA and similar transport projects can contribute to economic development and integration into the Euro-Asian region.