BAKU, Azerbaijan, Located at the intersection of North-South and East-West transport corridors, Azerbaijan is recognized as an important transport and logistics center of the region. In this area, successful cooperation is carried out with the countries of the European Union. The international transport corridors East-West, North-South and South-West, passing through the territory of the country, are beneficial for the transportation of goods both in terms of distance and time savings. Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, Baku International Sea Trade Port further expand the possibilities of these transport corridors. Against the background of these opportunities, the volume of transit cargo is significantly increasing.
Transit cargo traffic through the territory of Azerbaijan increased by about 30 percent in the first half of 2022. In some directions, in particular, along the North-West transport corridor, the growth of this indicator amounted to 300 percent. In January-June 2022, the transportation of oil of Turkmen origin through the BTC oil pipeline increased by 746 thousand tons (155%) compared to the corresponding period in 2021 and amounted to 1.2 million tons. In the first 6 months of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, the transportation of oil products (in particular, of Kazakh origin) by rail in the direction of Yalama – Boyuk Kesik increased by 772 thousand tons (an increase of 707 percent) and amounted to 0.9 million tons.
Taking a strategic central position between Europe and China and with a developed aviation, rail, pipeline and maritime infrastructure, Azerbaijan is emerging as a new leading logistics center in the face of reshaping global supply chains in Eurasia.
In this regard, it should be noted that a decision was recently made in the country to create a single headquarters for the management of transit cargo transportation. The main goal of the headquarters is to simplify and digitalize procedures at border checkpoints, improve the processes of synchronized planning and management of transit operations through a single dispatcher. The headquarters will monitor operations and regularly submit reports to the secretariat of the Coordinating Council. A call center will also be set up at the headquarters to promptly resolve the problems of cargo carriers during transit. A “Transit Roadmap” has been drawn up, which defines short-term, medium-term and long-term goals for the full disclosure of the country’s transit potential.
Among the measures taken by the customs authorities to develop the transit potential of Azerbaijan, an important place is taken by the simplification of intermodal transportation. Steps have been taken to connect to the new European Computerized Transit System. Thus, from June 1, 2020 to March 31, 2022, in order to join the Convention on Common Transit Procedures, simplify documentation in trade in goods and support the State Customs Committee in the process of joining the new computerized transit system, the EU implemented an appropriate twinning project. Its main goal was to simplify trade procedures between the EU countries and Azerbaijan.
In addition, the Web Transit digital service will be launched in Azerbaijan in the near future. This platform will improve the efficiency of the declaration process at customs points, as well as contribute to the expansion of Azerbaijan’s transit opportunities. Its launch will make it possible to provide customs authorities with the necessary information in advance about goods and vehicles intended for transit through the customs territory and transit customs declaration, as well as speed up transit customs procedures by making payments through the electronic system.
The cooperation agreement signed in the middle of this month between the Turkish holding Albayrak and the Baku port will also increase the transit potential of Azerbaijan. As part of the agreement, Albayrak Holding will invest in the construction and management of a bulk cargo terminal in the Baku port, as well as in the management of a Ro-Ro terminal in order to redirect Turkish wheeled vehicles from Central Asia to Azerbaijan. Transshipment of containers by the port is growing every year. If in 2018 22,887 containers were transshipped through the port of Baku, then in 2019 – 35,024, in 2020 – 40,345, and in 2021 – 45,025. Transshipment of containers by the port in 2021 almost doubled compared to 2018. By the end of this year, an even greater increase in this indicator is predicted. According to the latest data, in the first half of 2022, the port of Baku increased the transshipment of containers by 31.8 percent compared to the same period last year – up to 27,844 TEU containers.
The Permanent Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Commission of the Eurasian Transport Corridor (TRACECA) predicts that in the current geopolitical situation, container cargo transportation from China to Europe and back through the territory of Azerbaijan will grow three to five times by the end of 2022 compared to previous years. Nevertheless, it is noted that the transport infrastructure of Azerbaijan is ready for a sharp increase in the flow of transit cargo. It should be noted that Turkmenistan is also interested in joining TRACECA, which will make a significant contribution to the development of the transport corridor and further enhance the role of Azerbaijan as a transit country.
The importance of the Middle Corridor is also growing, in which Azerbaijan is also an important link. The middle corridor – the route from China to Europe – plays a big role in the current agenda. Trade disruptions in Eurasia and around the world have greatly increased the importance of the Middle Corridor connecting East and South Asia with the European part of the continent. Azerbaijan is critical to the viability of this Middle Corridor across Eurasia.
The full use of routes through Zangezur will greatly facilitate trans-Eurasian transportation and ensure the development of the Middle Corridor. This will have a positive economic impact on the entire region, from the Black Sea through the Caucasus and Central Asia to India, China and other countries of East and South Asia. The Zangezur corridor is an important route that allows to optimize the transport and logistics schemes of our region, as well as create opportunities for the transportation of much larger volumes of cargo. In fact, with the implementation of the Zangezur corridor, our country will have the opportunity to increase non-oil and non-primary exports. The growth of trade through the Zangezur corridor, which will also allow the export of electricity, will contribute to the prosperity of Azerbaijan and the region as a whole.
The realization of the transit potential of our country, which has a favorable geographical position, is of great importance in the policy of economic diversification. At the same time, the development of international and regional transport corridors has a positive effect on improving the efficiency of the economy. Joint projects in the fields of transport, infrastructure and logistics expand Azerbaijan’s economic opportunities and increase its importance. Azerbaijan provides efficient organization of transit transportation of goods to various destinations. This allows for safe and timely delivery in a short time on more favorable terms. Transit routes continue to expand, trade is increasing, which ultimately leads to the prosperity of Azerbaijan and the whole region.
Source: TREND News Agency