An “International trade and logistics during pandemic: challenges and solutions” panel within the Global Web Forum on “Governments’ agile response to COVID-19” was held today at the initiative of the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. During the forum, Director-General of the Port of Baku drew the attention of the attendees, such as Jan Hoffman, Chief of Trade Logistics Branch at UNCTAD, Murat Seitnepesov, President of Greater Caspian Association and Max EE, ITC key expert on trade logistics to the importance of the so-called Middle Corridor.
The Director-General noted that the global significance of the route became more evident with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although restrictions were imposed on other global transport and logistics corridors, the Middle Corridor continued to operate at full capacity and proved to be a reliable transportation corridor between Europe and China. The growth of trade turnover between Europe-Central Asia-China and vice versa is evidence of the significance of this route in global trade. It was noted that within the first 4 months of 2020 (January-April), the volume of cargo handling in the Port of Baku increased by 22 percent and amounted to 1,072 million tons.
The handling of trucks increased by 22,4% (11,399 trucks), the handling of dry cargo increased by 4.4 times (261,000 tons), while the container handling increased by 6.7% (10,767 TEU).Giving detailed information on the measures taken to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in the Port of Baku, Taleh Ziyadov said that the Port of Baku is working in an intensified work regime with all disinfection measures being carried out to prevent the spread of the pandemic. In addition, the Director-General noted that to minimize the danger posed by the virus, temporary quarantine and sterile (clean) zones have been created within the port. Each truck driver entering the port is tested in a temporary waiting zone and only sent to a sterile zone if the results are negative. By today, 2,266 people, including foreign truck drivers and port employees, have been tested in the port area. At the same time, taking into account that the vast majority of truck drivers using the port services cross the country border at the “Red Bridge” border checkpoint, the port staff together with the staff of the State Customs Committee, the Administration of the Regional Medical Divisions and Referans Clinical Laboratory Center examined 1,318 truck drivers at the border checkpoint since 12th of April. Altogether, around 4000 drivers and various groups of employees were tested in the mentioned period. In the end, Director-General concluded that all these measures taken against the pandemic have ensured the stable and efficient operation of the Middle Corridor.
Port of Baku experience in the handling the pandemic has been shared with Port’s of Kazakistan and Turkmenistan.