By Kamila Aliyeva
Baku International Sea Trade Port has received 34 forklifts from the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges.
The equipment, the total cost of which is about $2 million, was transferred to the Port of Baku on the basis of an intergovernmental grant agreement signed between China and Azerbaijan.
The equipment includes 16 forklifts with carrying capacity from 1.5 to 20 tons, two 45-ton telescopic container loaders, three 30-ton trailers for tractors, one 220-ton crane and other equipment.
The Port in Alat, which will become the largest port on the Caspian Sea, is an important part of Azerbaijan's transport infrastructure.
The Port of Baku is located on an area of 400 hectares of land, of which about 100-115 ha cover the area for the development of the international Logistics and Trade Zone. The northern areas around the port are reserved for future expansion of logistics, industrial, and manufacturing activity.
The port is expected to become one of the leading trade and logistics hubs of Eurasia. The implementation of all three phases of construction is projected to increase the capacity up to 7,660 tons on a daily basis.
Located at the intersection of the East-West and North-South transport corridors, the new Baku International Sea Trade Port, the construction of which is an integral part of the policy of turning Azerbaijan into an important transport and logistics center of the region, plays a crucial and important role in expanding the country's transit capacities.
Thus, a basis will be created for the formation of an efficient and sustainable logistics chain that will ensure the concentration of cargo flows entering the country along the corridors from the north, south, east and west in the new port complex and their transportation from here along the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line to Europe or in an easterly direction by ships.
Also, the creation of the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) that will ensure a wider transit and transport potential of the country is envisaged on the territory of the port.
Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Abid Sharifov and Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Wei Jinghua signed the acceptance certificate on new equipment.
At the presentation of the equipment handed over to the Port, Sharifov said that over the recent years, the Chinese government has allocated grants worth $70 million to Azerbaijan.
He noted that Azerbaijan has already received more than $60 million in the form of various equipment, and it will further receive equipment worth $7-8 million in the near future.
“In particular, more than 20 units of various necessary agricultural equipment were transferred to Nakhchivan at the end of last year. At the same time, equipment for Azeravtoyol – bulldozers, excavators, graders and other construction equipment – was supplied for several years until the end of July last year,” Sharifov said.
He added that thanks to the Chinese grants, Azerbaijan purchased more than 150 garbage trucks, water trucks, sewer trucks, dump trucks and graders during three years and distributed them among the country’s regions.
“We also ordered a batch of new communal vehicles for the fleet renewal next year,” said Sharifov.
The deputy prime minister added that the Cabinet of Ministers is regularly in touch with the relevant Azerbaijani structures in any sphere and solves issues on the delivery of equipment according to their requests.
“We appreciate the wishes and consider the possibility of acquiring this or that equipment with Chinese grants. The fact is that, according to the conditions, we can only purchase Chinese-made equipment, and there are such types of equipment that are not manufactured in China,” Sharifov said.
He also noted that last year showed a record indicator of trade turnover between China and Azerbaijan – about $1.2 billion.
Ambassador Jinghua noted, in turn, that regular mutual visits of the leadership of the two countries and the signing of numerous documents determined the development of relations between the two countries.
“China pays great attention to the special advantages of Azerbaijan in the Eurasian transport hub. Thus, Chinese companies support cooperation with Azerbaijan in the field of transport and logistics,” the ambassador said.
He added that the equipment transferred to the Baku Port will further increase Azerbaijan’s capacity to receive cargoes and strengthen its role in the region as a trade and logistics center.
Jinghua noted that China hopes that Baku will soon become a major logistics hub on the route from Asia to Europe.
“The Great Silk Road connected our peoples more than 2,000 years ago. After Azerbaijan regained its independence, our historical ties were restored, and now they are being strengthened within the framework of the One Belt and One Road project,” said the ambassador, noting that both countries support each other on all issues.
In 2013, China proposed the One Belt and One Road project that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries. The strategy consists of two main components: the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the ocean-going Maritime Silk Road. The initiative envisages creation of a trade corridor for direct supplies of goods from the east to the west on preferential terms. It is believed that the Baku International Sea Trade Port will become one of the most promising logistics zones throughout the New Silk Road.