An agreement was achieved between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to leverage the full capacity of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, also known as the Middle Corridor, which stretches from China to Europe covering Central Asia and South Caucasus.
They came to the agreement during Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Kazakhstan on Monday.
As Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in a joint press briefing in Astana, it was important to fully utilize the capacity of the Middle Corridor with Azerbaijan, which is the Central Asian country’s Caspian Sea littoral neighbor.
He highlighted the particular importance of the full deployment of the potential of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, or so-called Middle Corridor. According to Tokaev, the improvement of logistical services, the creation of unified transport operators, the modernization of technical and tariff conditions, the elimination of administrative barriers and the emergence of a closed logistical cycle was being talked about during the briefing published on President.Az.
He also said that it was important to implement the roadmap for the development of the Middle Corridor for 2022-2027 effectively. Hence, taking full advantage of the growing interest in this route and involvement of third countries in its infrastructure development were agreed about by Baku and Astana.
The simultaneous removal of bottlenecks and the development of the Middle Corridor over the five-year period by all participating states are provided by the roadmap for 2022-2027. Agreed principles of work, as well as specific projects with precise parameters, deadlines implementation and responsible executors are envisaged by the document. The implementation of the agreements will make it possible to increase the throughput capacity along the corridor up to 10 million tons per year by 2025.
An agreement was achieved by Presidents Aliyev and Tokayev in August 2022 to leverage the full potential of the Middle Corridor for contributing to the growth in bilateral trade turnover ($598 million currently after a four-fold increase since 2022).
Cooperation efforts between Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Türkiye were decided to be reinforced and regional connectivity through already available and new agreements was agreed to be strengthened by the foreign ministers of the three countries in June in Baku. A decision to capitalize on the potential of the Middle Corridor was also made.
According to President Aliyev, they were already implementing the decisions made in Baku in August of last year, including joint efforts on connecting the transport and logistical infrastructure of the countries in order to fully utilize the opportunities of the Middle Corridor.
As the Azerbaijani president said, referring to meetings in limited and expanded formats with Kazakh officials, specific figures and a schedule for increasing cargo transportation along the East-West route were discussed and tasks to the heads of relevant agencies to study all these issues in the near future were given.
Even bigger benefits to the landlocked countries in the region are promised by the main maritime points of the Middle Corridor (the Baku International Sea Trade Port (Azerbaijan), Aktau/Kuryk ports (Kazakhstan) and Turkmenbashi Port (Turkmenistan)).
It is estimated that in one year, 96 percent out of approximately 10 million containers that are transported from China to Europe, will utilize sea routes and only the remaining 4 percent will use the Trans-Siberian Railway, which is also called the Northern Corridor.
Compared to the Northern Corridor, the Middle Corridor is more economical and faster as a trade route between Europe and Asia, and the travel distance is shrunk by 2,000 kilometers and the travel time is shortened by 15 days compared to the sea route. Climate conditions of the Middle Corridor are also more favorable and great opportunities for cargo traffic in Asia are offered by it, so that the loads can reach the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean region by integrating the port connections in Türkiye.
Due to the Middle Corridor, South Caucasian and Central Asian countries are expected to get economic opportunities, enabling them to benefit from China-Europe trade, which is valued at $600 billion annually. The development and deepening of Trans-Caspian cooperation will be particularly facilitated by the establishment of logistical centers and free trade zones at the ports of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.