Jamestown Foundation: Azerbaijan, China implementing project of important route

Economy Materials 13 April 2017 13:56 (UTC +04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 13

By Elmira Tariverdiyeva – Trend:

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili attended a session on “The Silk Road Effect” at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2017, wrote analyst Fuad Shahbazov in his article published by the Jamestown Foundation.

“Presumably, the intention of both leaders was to promote the importance of the new China-led “Silk Road Economic Belt” project and its role in the future development of the economy and infrastructure in the South Caucasus. As a source of and as a transit corridor for strategic global resources such as oil and natural gas, as well as the intersection of important transportation routes between the East and West as well as the North and South, the South Caucasus holds great geostrategic importance,” said Shahbazov.

“More recently the South Caucasus has become an area of great interest as an extension of the highly ambitious Chinese Silk Road project, which aims to connect Europe and East Asia via new roads and railways across the Eurasian landmass,” says the article.

“But China’s real connection with the region will likely come when the Baku–Tbilisi–Kars (BTK) railway is finally completed. The railroad and its connection to Chinese Silk Road transit corridors further east will facilitate China’s ability to ship goods westward across the South Caucasus isthmus and, more generally, boost trade opportunities in the region.”

Baku reacted positively to the initiative of Chinese Silk Road project, hoping that the ambitious project would bring more Chinese investment to the country, noted the author.

Such a tendency has contributed greatly to shaping Azerbaijan’s bilateral relations with China, allowing the latter to rise to become one of Azerbaijan’s top ten trading partners, added Shahbazov.

“Trade turnover between China and Azerbaijan has grown 800-fold during their 22 years of diplomatic relations,” said the author. “Initially, bilateral trade amounted to only $1.5 million; but in 2004, it jumped to $200 million and $368 million in 2006. By 2013, their trade turnover reached around $1.5 billion.”

In 2016, the China-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) approved its biggest loan so far for the construction of a gas pipeline connecting Azerbaijan to Turkey and Southern Europe, says the article.

The AIIB lent $600 million to the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) which, when completed, will transport natural gas from fields in Azerbaijan across Turkey and then onward to markets in Southeastern Europe, added Shahbazov.