BAKU, Azerbaijan, Dec. 28
By Sadraddin Aghjayev - Trend:
Trend News Agency presents an overview of the most important events in 2021 in the transport sector of Azerbaijan.
NORTH - SOUTH
Azerbaijan is an initiator and active participant of North-South and East-West transport corridors. The development of these corridors entails the interconnection of national transport systems and the creation of appropriate infrastructure.
Azerbaijan with the Astrakhan region of Russia is intensively developing the process of transporting goods along the North-South international transport corridor.
In addition, the new opportunities that have emerged in the South Caucasus after the second Karabakh war make it possible to implement additional and very important transport projects, as well as accelerate implementation of the North-South project, within which dozens of small projects in the sectors of the economy, transport, investment cooperation, as well as humanitarian and cultural projects.
In general, this relates to several hundred projects that unite North-South. The unfinished section of the Rasht-Astara Road on the Iranian side to some extent hinders the creation of a joint railway network.
In addition, Azerbaijan considers the development of the North-South transport corridor as an opportunity to participate in the creation of a transport network on the territory of other countries.
Also, through the implementation of these initiatives, the country acquires additional political opportunities to strengthen its leading role in the implementation of economic and energy projects in the Caspian region.
It is noted that the North-South transport corridor is a network of sea, rail and road routes with a length of 7,200 kilometers for the movement of goods between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.
BAKU - TBILISI - KARS
Currently, the Ministry of Digital Development and Transport of Azerbaijan is working to unify tariffs for cargo transportation along the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway route. Azerbaijan is the starting point of the strategic project Baku-Tbilisi-Kars. In order to make this route even more cost-effective and commercially viable, the country is working on the unification of tariffs.
At the beginning of 2021, Azerbaijan received the first export train from Turkey to China via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. To date, the export train from Turkey to China runs on a permanent basis.
On the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars route, within the framework of the TURKUAZ project, containers with winter wheat seeds were first delivered by rail to the liberated territories of Azerbaijan - to the East Zangazur economic zone.
In 2021, a trilateral protocol on the development of this project was signed between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. During the signing, it was announced the need to reduce the time required for carriers to transit goods by rail, as well as the need to improve the efficiency of this project. Also, this year, joint work was launched, which will bring the corridor to full capacity.
In addition, Ankara aims to increase the volume of cargo transportation via the BTK in the medium term to 3.2 million tons, and in the medium term - to 6.5 million tons per year.
The Permanent Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Commission (PS IGC) TRACECA in 2021 was working on signing a new agreement to obtain a single transit permit for TRACECA. The structure noted the existence of certain limits on the transportation of goods, which are regulated by bilateral agreements on their transit, and work was carried out to get rid of unnecessary documentation between countries.
Azerbaijan bilaterally launched several projects in the framework of e-TIR. One of them is a pilot transportation between four TRACECA countries (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan).
In addition, TRACECA worked on the e-CMR (electronic consignment note) project. The approval procedure between government bodies was discussed, the results in the near future will allow talking about the further development of the project.
Another one of the activities of TRACECA under a single transit agreement is the introduction of digital technologies, within which the participating countries are considering the possibility of using certain technologies, on the basis of which a product and plans for the implementation of tracking systems for the movement of goods (vehicle downtime) will be developed in real time. At the moment, within the framework of cargo tracking, work is underway to accept the project and its implementation until 2026.
However, for the purpose of certification of TRACECA routes, the concentration is on the main routes. In the near future there will be a new TRACECA route map.
In addition, one of the topical issues of TRACECA today is the harmonization of the legal framework and simplification of border crossing procedures. In this context, digitalization again comes to the fore.
LAPIS LAZULI (participating countries: Afghanistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia)
Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan at the beginning of the year signed a roadmap for cooperation on the Lapis-Lazuli Transit, Trade & Transport Route or Lapis Lazuli Corridor project. According to the Lapis Lazuli project, railways and highways should connect the city of Towrgondi (Afghan province of Herat) with Ashgabat, then with the Caspian port of Turkmenbashi.
The corridor will stretch to Baku, then through Tbilisi to Ankara with branches to Poti and Batumi, then from Ankara to Istanbul. In this context, it is worth noting that the new Khanoba customs post on the border of Azerbaijan and Russia will facilitate faster transportation of goods along the North-South transport corridor and will increase the capacity of vehicles.
In addition, within the framework of intracontinental transportation on the international route "One Belt - One Road" Azerbaijan will be able to increase its transit capabilities.
Azerbaijan will continue to support projects implemented on the basis of the East-West transport corridor passing through the Caspian Sea.
BAKU INTERNATIONAL SEA TRADE PORT
The Baku International Sea Trade Port (Port of Baku) this year continued to develop transit potential of the country through digitalization and expanding international cooperation.
In addition, three large projects are planned to be implemented on the territory of the Baku port in the medium term: it is planned to implement a project to create a TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) park.
The advantages of this park will be such types of services as parking of wheeled vehicles on the territory of the port, provision of a recreation area, repairs, customs clearance of goods, as well as a number of other services in accordance with international practice.
The TIR park project is currently fully developed, and its construction is planned to be implemented on the basis of private investment; to expand the infrastructure of container transportation and their maintenance and begin to carry out these works more quickly, as well as provide services (electrical, monitoring) to refrigerated containers. It is also planned to build a grain terminal, which will attract the export of bulk cargo and increase the transit potential of the port.
The turnover of grain transshipment, if the set goals are achieved, can reach 2-3 million tons per year.
It is noted that these three large projects in the medium term will increase the sustainability and potential of the Baku port, as well as increase the confidence of international organizations.
Speaking about the potential of the Zangazur corridor, it was reported that the launch of this corridor will lead to an increase in the flow of goods in the Baku port. The port is already preparing for the next increase in the volume of cargo transshipment, and the expansion of regional ties with the ports of neighboring countries makes us a leading player in this region.
In addition, the Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan noted that with the opening of the Zangazur corridor, Azerbaijan expects a great effect in terms of the export component, as well as an increase in the competitiveness of goods that are produced in Azerbaijan. Its opening meets the economic interests of all countries in the region.
It is also worth emphasizing that the creation of this corridor, which will connect the main part of Azerbaijan with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR), will contribute to attracting the NAR to participate in international transit projects.
Thus, Nakhchivan, using the new transport and logistics infrastructure, will be able to export its products to other regions of Azerbaijan, as well as to Asian countries, on more favorable terms. This will accelerate the economic growth and development of the NAR, will increase exports, as well as attract additional investment.
In addition, the opening of this corridor will have a huge impact on the development of transport communications in the entire region, help expand not only transport integration in the South Caucasus, but also provide the shortest land route from Asia to Europe.