Azerbaijan’s share in Central Asia-Europe cargo transportation to grow sharply

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Due to the Russian-Ukrainian war, big problems emerged with cargo transportation from Central Asia to Europe through the Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia (TRACECA), National Secretary of the TRACECA Intergovernmental Commission for Azerbaijan Rufat Bayramov told Report.

Bayramov didn’t rule out a sharp increase in cargo transportation through Azerbaijan:

“It is estimated that approximately 10% of goods transported from Central Asia to Europe via Russia will pass through Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Georgia. This means an increase in cargo transportation through Azerbaijan by at least 5-6 times. An increase in cargo transportation through Central Asia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to 150,000 containers is expected. Also, additional cargo transportation by 35,000 vehicles from Central Asia is planned along this route. This is due to the reduction in traffic through Russia and Ukraine. Many Chinese companies and other international carriers have so far refrained from shipping through Russia. As a result, attention is directed to our route. This will lead to a sharp increase in freight traffic through Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia and will create some tension, since we are not yet fully ready to accept these volumes. But within the capabilities of the existing infrastructure, cargo transportation along the specified route will increase.”

Bayramov noted that currently the corridor countries are discussing the expansion of infrastructure: “There are certain consultations among the corridor countries on the readiness of the infrastructure, the availability of a sufficient number of ships, and the implementation of appropriate procedures for container transportation. At the same time, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia are interested in creating a joint company with the aim of processing the volume of cargo transportation passing through these countries, determining tariffs, promptly resolving issues related to customs and other areas. There is a conceptual agreement on the creation of such a management company.”

Since last year, there have been delays in cargo transportation from China to Europe. This issue still exists, he added.

“Due to the pandemic in China, a number of ports have suspended their activities, and some have limited them. A number of European ports don’t accept Russian vessels, either. This has had an impact on shipping. On the other hand, there is also a shortage of containers in cargo transportation, so work is underway to eliminate it. Problems in the international shipping chain have also raised prices,” Bayramov said.

He added that this year it was planned to implement the Global Transit Document project along the TRACECA corridor: “Initially, we planned to implement a pilot project in April. The TRACECA train was supposed to go from Romania to Central Asia or, conversely, from Central Asia to Europe in test mode. But since Ukraine is a member of TRACECA, this project has been postponed for now.”