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Road bridge across Astarachay River to be breakthrough in dev't of "North-South" ITC project (UPDATE)

Economy Materials 26 January 2022 18:09

Details added: first version posted on 16:20

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 26

By Sadraddin Aghjayev, Jani Babayeva - Trend:

A groundbreaking ceremony for a new bridge over the Astarachay River on the border between Azerbaijan-Iran was held on Jan. 25, 2022, Trend reports.

The document was signed by Azerbaijani Deputy Minister of Digital Development and Transport Rahman Hummatov and Iranian Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development Kheirollah Khademi. The bridge, which will contribute to the growth of cargo transportation, will be built and commissioned until the end of this year.

Vasily Koltashov, director of the New Society Institute in Russia told Trend that the new road bridge can contribute to the development of trade and economic relations between Azerbaijan and Iran, as well as the countries of the region.

According to Koltashov, in this context, the bridge can be integrated into the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which will benefit both Azerbaijan and the countries of the region.

The trade turnover between Russia and Iran is growing rapidly, trade and economic cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) member countries is actively developing, he said.

"In this context, the creation of the Eurasian Highway and the Eurasian Transport Network has a great importance and potential,” he also said. “Each small component of this process is very important and provides opportunities for the development of local economic activity, more active involvement of the regional market, including the Azerbaijani market, in these ties, and also in terms of transit.”

According to the expert, the bridge’s integration into the INSTC can provide an opportunity to benefit, first of all, Azerbaijan, as it will contribute to the growth of the traffic flow, including freight transport.

“In general, cargo transportation along this route (through the Astarachay River) will be beneficial for Azerbaijan and its economy. This project and such solutions are very important, even though they may seem small against the background of the general scale of Eurasian cooperation and rapprochement," Koltashov said.

According to Doctor of Economy, Professor of St. Petersburg State University Stanislav Tkachenko, the construction of a new automobile bridge across the Astarachay River between Iran and Azerbaijan is an urgent need.

“Economists and logistics professionals are well aware of the “bottleneck effect”, that is, a bottleneck through which traffic is forced to slow down, which disrupts the overall dynamics of the movement of goods and people,” Tkachenko said. “Such situation is typical for the transportation of goods across the border of Azerbaijan and Iran, and in a broader sense - along the routes of transport corridors which are already partially operating or only under construction, in particular, the "North-South" ITC, and in the future - the Zangazur corridor.”

The situation when only one outdated and unreliable road bridge serves trade between Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, as well as South Asian countries, which has a potential of tens of millions of tons of cargo, cannot be considered acceptable, the expert noted.

Tlachenko noted it is gratifying that in the conditions of economic and sanctions restrictions faced by Iran, namely Azerbaijan acts as the initiator and main investor of this project.

Trade between Azerbaijan and Iran is developing dynamically, and in 2021 alone it grew by 30 percent. Amid a sharp increase in tariffs for international cargo transportation, which became especially noticeable in the middle of last year, infrastructure projects similar to the construction of a road bridge across the Astarachay River have excellent prospects.

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