BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 24
By Sadraddin Aghjayev - Trend:
The Trade Lanes project for land transit of goods along the Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA) is planned to be implemented in the first quarter of 2022, Permanent Representative (National Secretary) of the Permanent Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Commission (PS IGC) TRACECA Rufat Bayramov told Trend.
According to Bayramov, under this project, a number of meetings of the working groups have already been held, and the concept has been presented.
“It’s planned to organize a pilot cargo transportation. This initiative was developed by the International Center for Transport Diplomacy (ICTD) together with the International Union of Road Workers and the IBM Corporation," he said.
“This system is already being used by Maersk company, which is taking part in the process,” the national secretary also said. “There is a preliminary agreement with countries of Central Asia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. We have already worked out an action plan and predict that in the first quarter of this year we’ll be able to carry out a pilot transportation.”
Besides, according to him, it’s planned to implement Uniform Transit Permit (e-TIR) project involving both the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus.
“It’s for the first time that six TRACECA member countries, including Azerbaijan, have applied the e-TIR system in a test regime. Azerbaijan applied it jointly with Iran. This system was also applied in the countries of Central Asia – Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan," Bayramov said.
“Today a cargo carrier needs four permits to transport goods from Tajikistan to Turkey, and following implementation of this agreement a single electronic document will be used,” he added.
He stressed that last year Permanent Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Commission TRACECA accepted a report on the implementation of the strategy plan on the Europe-Caucasus-Asia corridor for 2018-2021 and approved an action plan on the above strategy for 2022-2026.
Moreover, according to Bayramov, the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and TRACECA are working out the common measures and approaches in the field of harmonization of transport procedures, and the parties have already adopted an appropriate roadmap.
“We have already adopted the corresponding concepts in the field of digitalization, which include many factors of using e-documents, creating a single digital platform that will allow exchanging information, creating a digital ecosystem, verifying information and speeding up transporting goods along the TRACECA corridor,” Bayramov said.
He stressed that it’s very important to work with state structures as well.
"We are directly cooperating with customs authorities, committees and other affiliated structures that are responsible for border control to use these systems. The organization of online queues at the borders is being studied to simplify and speed up the process of passing border procedures” he noted. “For example, during the coronavirus pandemic, this problem was identified both in the countries of our region and in Central Asia. The use of such technologies and best practices will allow us to simplify and speed up the process of passing border procedures.”
"Today our goal and task is to simplify the process of trade and transportation between the countries of Europe, the Caucasus and Asia. Different procedures and requirements for the passage of goods across the borders of the TRACECA member countries during the pandemic are the main gap in the activities of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia corridor,” he noted.
“In order to solve this problem, nearly a month after WHO announced the coronavirus pandemic, the PS IGC TRACECA developed a review and recommendations for harmonizing border crossing procedures,” he reminded. “All these recommendations were presented and applied by all countries participating in the corridor.”
“Freight traffic between TRACECA countries last year amounted to roughly 58 million tons. About 70 percent of the cargo fell on petrochemicals, "Bayramov said.
He added that the TRACECA corridor is aimed at becoming a bridge between Europe and Asia, the economies of China and Europe, and the Permanent Secretariat focuses on containerization, the use of digital technologies, the simplification and acceleration of border crossing processes.
"It’s very important to understand that the geography of our corridor is very wide (the length of TRACECA is about 5,000-6,000 kilometers) and in some areas the processes are slowed down due to natural factors (for example, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have complex road infrastructure due to the mountains),” Bayramov said. “In the Caspian countries, sea transportation is sometimes slowed down due to unfavorable weather conditions.”
“The more we adjust the work of various modalities, the more services will be provided in the transport corridor, and the faster the passage of goods will be ensured," he stressed.
Bayramov also said that a shorter route between Azerbaijan and Turkey will allow the countries quickly reach the trade turnover worth $15 billion and attract big investments in the Azerbaijani economy.
“This will also contribute to opening tens of thousands of new jobs, which is very important for the integration of the Azerbaijani lands liberated from the Armenian occupation [in the 2020 second Karabakh war] into Azerbaijan’s economy,” the permanent representative added. “Today, the only land route connecting Azerbaijan with Turkey is the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway corridor. This route fully meets the needs of our country and fulfills the corresponding tasks.”
According to Bayramov, a shorter route will also contribute to opening tens of thousands of jobs.
Noting the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway corridor, he said that a shorter route will connect southern Turkey with Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan and its other parts will create more opportunities for the development of the economies of Azerbaijan and Turkey. It will also expand trade between Turkey and the Central Asian countries.
Bayramov also noted that the PS IGC TRACECA tries to be very objective in the development of types of transport of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor.
“Taking into account that the automotive sector is the most liberal among all transportation sectors, we try to pay special attention to it, to help private carriers,” he emphasized. “Despite the validity of certain international conventions in the field of rail or sea transport and the established routes and relationships, the work is underway to improve cargo transportation via railway or sea and create unified legal documents.”
“For example, Turkey, being a member of TRACECA, uses the CIM consignment note (Rail Transport Document) when transporting goods by railway while some other TRACECA member-states use the SMGS (Agreement on International Goods Transport by Rail),” he said.
“Therefore, when crossing the borders, it is necessary to re-register documents, spend time. It’s very important to create a single database of documents for all types of transport,” Bayramov said.