Weekly economic review (June 16 - 21)

On Wednesday, Baku hosted the fourth meeting of the Trilateral Coordination Council on the implementation of the new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars rail project.

Azerbaijani, Georgian and Turkish Ministers of Transport signed the final protocol, which involves accelerating the operations within the project. It is planned to complete the construction of the section on the Georgian-Turkish border in 2012. The road is planned to be commissioned in 2014.

It is planned to complete the implementation of the new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars rail project in 2013, Georgian Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Ramaz Nikolashvili said.

"It is planned to launch a technical train to the border of Turkey until the end of 2012" the minister said.

Also Nikolashvili noted the importance of this project in terms of transportation of goods from China and Central Asia. The new project will annually transport up to 15 million tons of cargo.

The work is being carried out in accordance with the schedule and there is no problem in its implementation, Azerbaijani Transport Minister Ziya Mammadov told reporters.

The transport corridor includes the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki branch line with a length of 98km, of which 68km is in Turkey and 30km in Georgia.

A 183-kilometre section of the Akhalkalaki-Marabda-Tbilisi railway will be reconstructed within the project to increase the capacity to 15 million tons of cargo per year. It is planned to construct a centre in Akhalkalaki to transfer trains from the track existing in Georgia to the European one.

Azerbaijan has allocated a soft loan worth $775 million for Georgia to construct and reconstruct the Georgian section of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.

Tranche A worth $200 million has been allocated for 25 years at one per cent per annum, includes the work on the project since 2007, Tranche B worth $575 million is for 25 years at five per cent per annum.

The need for allocating Tranche B is associated with an increase in world prices on construction and raw materials, revaluation of the current state of the Marabda-Kartsakhi railway branch and operations in adverse weather conditions, etc.

It is expected that about 30 million tons of cargo per year will be transported through the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway annually. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will have a direct route to the European rail network.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will increase the flow of container, bulk and other types of cargo from Asia to Europe. The Marmaris project envisaging the construction of a tunnel under the Bosporus will be implemented during this period. This will open a railway communication to Europe.

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