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Azerbaijan offers Turkmenistan to reduce railway tariffs to enhance cargo transportation

11 March 2016 14:47 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan offers Turkmenistan to reduce railway tariffs to enhance cargo transportation

By Aynur Karimova

Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, the two Caspian littoral countries with favorable strategic positions on the historic Silk Road, have voiced their intention to develop cooperation in the transport sector.

Javid Gurbanov, the head of Azerbaijan Railways CJSC said at an international scientific conference titled "The role of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan on the way of recreation a new "Silk Road" between Europe and Asia" that the two countries consider opening a new route on the Caspian Sea.

The protocol on cooperation in this field has already been signed during the recent visit of the Azerbaijani delegation to Turkmenistan.

“We think that if we define the tariffs, then we will be able to provide access of goods to Europe via a new route, originating in Afghanistan and passing through the territory of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan,” he noted.

Gurbanov believes that due to the lack of favorable tariffs, goods from Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia are mainly transported through other Central Asian countries.

Today, major part of cargoes is transported through Russia and Kazakhstan to the Black Sea bypassing Turkmenistan. If Turkmenistan reconsiders to reduce tariffs, goods can be transported through its territory, he noted.

Azerbaijan, located in the cradle of the Caspian Sea, plays a gateway role between not only the east and west, but also the north and south.

Settled in between the West and East, the Land of Fire is positioned on one of the most important trade and transit routes to Europe. Taking the favorable geographic position into account, the Azerbaijani government is engaged in the development and expansion of internal transport corridors.

“Goods from China will be delivered to the new port of Aktau in Kazakhstan, which will be connected with the Baku International Sea Trade Port in the Alat settlement, from where they will be transported via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars route to Turkey and through the Black Sea ports to the European markets,” Gurbanov noted.

The volume of freight traffic between Europe and China is about 100 million tons, or about $600-650 billion. It makes about 90 percent of China's exports and about 10-15 percent of European exports. Major part of the cargo accounted for maritime traffic.

"We are currently establishing transport communication for cargo transportation from China (from Urumqi County) to Europe via the territory of Azerbaijan. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will allow transporting cargoes to London," Gurbanov added.

Gurbanov believes that the South-West-Persian Gulf-Black Sea transport corridor, which was initiated by Azerbaijan, will allow access to Georgian ports and further to European markets after the completion of construction of the Astara (Azerbaijan)-Astara (Iran) railway.

The proposed transport corridor will provide more efficient delivery of transit cargoes from the Indian Ocean ports, Bandar Khomeini and Bandar Abbas ports in the Persian Gulf via the railway to Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgian Black Sea ports and vise versa.

Calculations show that if to take the potential of existing infrastructure into account, goods from the Bandar Abbas port to the Poti and Batumi ports will be delivered in seven days, while from the Mumbai port - in 14 days.

In his remarks, Turkmen Ambassador to Azerbaijan Toyli Komekov said that Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are important partners in the establishment of a new Silk Road between Europe and Asia.

Today Turkmenistan sees the transport sector as one of the main areas of cooperation with world countries given the advantageous geopolitical location of the country.

"Besides the traditionally priority directions of the relations with strategic partners and neighbors, Turkmenistan is carefully studying the new possibilities of interaction with the Middle East countries, including the Persian Gulf. Indeed," he noted.

The ambassador believes that today Turkmenistan enters the world market with its transport and logistics services.

"This proposal is pressing and in demand, which is evidenced by the recently launched new China-Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway and construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railway," he added.

Today, Turkmenistan has been rapidly replenishing its commercial and civil fleet, which is contributing to the expansion of regular passenger and cargo transportation in the Caspian Sea.

Turkmenistan has also launched an international car terminal, where direct international bus links will be established with Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Turkey. The construction of the ferry, passenger and cargo terminals are underway, while the construction of the Ashgabat Airport is at the final stage. After commissioning, the airport will become a major transit point on the continental airways.

Komekov said that given the prospects of development of the economies of the Central Asian nations, mutual turnover of goods and the flow of transit cargoes to these countries through the port Turkmenbashi will increase.


Aynur Karimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Aynur_Karimova

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