Kyrgyzstan interested in transportation co-op with Azerbaijan
Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 19
By Elena Kosolapova – Trend:
The Azerbaijan-Kyrgyzstan cooperation in transit transportation has good prospects and it can be beneficial to both sides, Isimbek Abdiyev, research officer at the National Institute for Strategic Studies of Kyrgyzstan, candidate of economic sciences, came to a conclusion while conducting a research in Azerbaijan for over three months.
Abdiyev presented the results of his study in Baku on Dec. 19.
He noted that Azerbaijan implements a number of transportation projects - a new port Alat is being constructed on the Caspian Sea, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is soon to be completed, Trans-Caspian International Transport Route project is being realized, through which it is planned to attract transit cargoes going from China to Europe and back. At the same time, Abdiyev said that the shortest, fastest and most convenient way to deliver cargo from China to Azerbaijan is via the route that goes though Kyrgyzstan and then through Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Despite the fact that 94 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s territory is mountainous, the country has a modern well developed highway system which is connected with highway systems of China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, according to him.
Moreover, within the Eurasian Economic Union incentives are provided until 2018 to carriers importing goods via Kyrgyzstan. Thus, it is cheaper to carry goods from China to Europe via Kyrgyzstan than via Russia or Kazakhstan, for instance.
In addition, the Kyrgyz carriers offer attractive tariffs for their services – they are often 2-3 times lower than the tariffs of carriers from Russia and Kazakhstan. Along with that, there is a permit-free system for Kyrgyz carriers to transit goods via Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan and a licensing system with Turkey which allows them freely transporting cargo on the territories of these countries. Besides, the Kyrgyz carriers have substantial experience in driving on mountain passes, which is important for transportation in this mountainous region.
Abdiyev also noted that the Kyrgyz legislation does not pose any restrictions on the export of capital which makes the country attractive for foreign investors.
Meanwhile, the analyst noted that the railway network is not developed in Kyrgyzstan. He recalled that a railroad, connected with Kazakh railways, from the Issyk-Kul lake to the border with Kazakhstan has remained in northern Kyrgyzstan since the Soviet era. Moreover, there are small sections of a railway, connected with Uzbek railways, in the country’s south – in a district of the Osh city. During the Soviet era, when there were no borders between the Union’s republics, this railway was single. However, currently, these railway sections are separated by the territory of Uzbekistan, and, as a consequence, are used rarely.
Abdiyev noted that as of today, there is no a railway linking the north and south of Kyrgyzstan, and in order to travel from the country’s southern regions to the northern regions, it is necessary to pass through the territory of three neighboring countries – Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and to pass the passport control for several times.
Meanwhile, there is no a railway stretching from east to west of Kyrgyzstan. The analyst noted that Kyrgyzstan can’t independently finance the implementation of such a project and it is not planned to attract loans for the construction of the railway route, because currently, the country’s external debt exceeds 60 percent of GDP and additional loans will bring it to dangerous proportions.
Abdiyev added that there is an interest in this project, in particular, China supports the connection of its railways with Kyrgyz railways.
The expert also said that giving the Silk Road program’s status to these transportation projects can help to develop transportation routes in the region. He noted that this will help to coordinate intergovernmental efforts, conduct a common policy and develop common norms in this sphere.
During the presentation, it was also noted that in order to stimulate cooperation in the transportation sphere, Kyrgyz embassy in Baku has initiated the creation of the Azerbaijan-Kyrgyzstan fund on development of transportation.
Abdiyev said that along with the support to transportation and transit cooperation, such a fund will also help to the development of trade, tourism and other types of cooperation among countries.
Follow the author on Twitter: @E_Kosolapova