BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 4. Azerbaijan considers implementing a number of projects to boost the cargo transshipment at the Baku International Sea Trade Port, the Head of Strategic Planning and Development Department at the Port Khudayar Gasanli told Trend.
According to him, the demand for routes running through Azerbaijan is significantly growing amidst the recent world events.
"Due to the cargo traffic growth along the East-West Corridor (from China to Europe), the Port of Baku and the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), are becoming of greater demand. Freight movement from China, Central Asia and the Black Sea basin to the EU countries and back via TITR through Azerbaijan’s territory, has been updated, which means the possible rise in cargo flow from China to Europe through Azerbaijan," Hasanli said.
He added that the Baku International Sea Trade Port, Azerbaijan Railways, Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company (ASCO), as well as other cargo carriers, are carrying out monitoring activities to develop the infrastructure potential in the near future. Moreover, the first cargo blocks have already passed through the territory of Azerbaijan. The Port has already transported several block trains and delivered goods from China to Europe.
According to the head of the department, the current realities suggest the need for much shorter and more sustainable routes.
"Our country provides for one of the most sustainable freight transport routes. The present capacity of the Port of Baku constitutes 100,000 TEU containers. Hopefully, the transshipment of containers through the port will reach its peak in the next 2-3 years. In the medium term, it’s scheduled to establish a special terminal for container handling," Hasanli said.
According to him, there has been a downward trend in the transshipment of wagons over the past three years.
"However, from January through May 2022, this figure increased compared to the same period of 2021. In the reporting period, the freight flow in the Baku port reached 2.2 million tons, up by nearly 20 percent against the same period of 2021 ( 1.8 million tons)," Hasanli said.
The head of the department stressed that the wheeled vehicles (TIR) transshipment increased by almost 16 percent, up to 17,800 units.
"During this period, the International Sea Trade Port handled 14,300 railcars (an increase of 18.9 percent). The main share of the cargo volume falls on containers, as in previous years. The growth in container transshipment accounted for 22 percent exceeding 21,000 TEU containers. The bulk cargo and mineral fertilizer traffic is also rapidly growing. A total of 606,000 tons of bulk cargos were transshipped in the first five months of 2022, out of which 558,000 tons (over 90 percent), fell on mineral fertilizers. This figure is expected to reach around 1.4 million tons by the end of 2022 (growth of 22.5 percent)," Hasanli stated.
The Port plans to commission a mineral fertilizer terminal with an annual capacity of nearly three million tons by the end of 2022 – beginning of 2023, said the head of the department.
“In our assessment, the Port’s container transshipment will reach 200,000-250,000 TEU per year, while bulk cargo – one million tons per year in the medium term. The Port will expand its infrastructure capacities of cargo traffic in conjunction with the railway, shipping company, and road carriers,” Hasanli said.
As he noted, Türkiye and Central Asian countries transport a large flow of wheeled vehicles. The goods turnover between them, including Afghanistan, reaches about 120,000 TIR per year. About 20 percent of these cargoes pass through Azerbaijan's territory, and the Port aims to increase this figure up to 50 percent (or nearly 60,000 trucks),” Hasanli outlined.
The head of the department underscored plans to establish a TIR park on the Baku International Sea Trade Port’s territory along with the development of containerization, as well as the construction of terminals for bulk cargo and mineral fertilizer handling.
“Currently, the transshipment of wheeled vehicles reaches nearly 35,000-40,000 year on year (80 percent of the equipment falls on Türkiye),” Hasanli added.