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TRACECA's official upbeat about Azerbaijan's role as transportation hub [INTERVIEW]

24 October 2022 [16:30] - TODAY.AZ

By Azernews

By Ayya Lmahamad

Today, new realities are emerging, and under these conditions, transport routes through the South Caucasus are becoming increasingly popular. In the light of the current situation, Azerbaijan is becoming one of the transport and logistics hubs through which cargo traffic is increasing.

International transport corridors such as East-West, North-West, North-South, and South-West pass through Azerbaijan’s territory.

TRACECA, which was founded in 1993, is an international transportation program involving the European Union and 12 member states from the Eastern European, Caucasus, and Central Asian regions (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan).

In an exclusive interview with Azernews, National Secretary of TRACECA in Azerbaijan Rufat Bayramov spoke about the country’s role as a transportation hub, the volume of cargo transportation through the Azerbaijani section of TRACECA, the impact of new infrastructure projects in liberated territories on the cargo transportation volume, as well as about current and planned projects of TRACECA.

Q: What can you say about Azerbaijan’s role as a transportation hub, especially taking into account the recent events in the world (the Russian-Ukrainian war)? At the same time, what can you say about Azerbaijan’s role in TRACECA?

A: Azerbaijan's role, as the practice has shown, is one of the major ones. Azerbaijan is a key link in the East-West and North-South corridors, as you know both are large transport routes that connect the Eurasian continent. They basically converge in Azerbaijan. And Azerbaijan, being committed to that trend over the last 15 years, has been building all its infrastructure structures intensively. That is, there were projects on renovation and construction of new railroad routes, among which, we can point out, for instance, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars, as well as routes connecting Azerbaijani railroads with Russian and Iranian ones, as well as the North-South project.

At the same time, Azerbaijan has built on its territory one of the largest commercial seaports on the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan has the largest number of commercial vessels, which are involved in the trans-Caspian route.

And basically, taking into account what has been going on over, let’s say, the last year, the role of Azerbaijan and the role of the route that goes through the whole territory of Azerbaijan has increased many times, which can be seen directly in the increase of the cargo flow. If I am not mistaken, the latest data shows a 24 percent increase in cargo flow through Azerbaijan, which is basically in line with the situation, so to say. And our forecast for the future is that there will be at least a threefold increase in cargo flow through our countries, I mean the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus, i.e. Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Q: What is the volume of cargo transportation through the Azerbaijani section of TRACECA?

A: In general, the volume of cargo flow through Azerbaijan passing through the Azerbaijani section of TRACECA is estimated at about 9-10-11 million tons of cargo, if we are talking about non-oil products, of course. In our analysis, we take exactly these parameters. Therefore, I think that this year it is quite possible that we will reach 12-13 million tons, but we will be able to talk about it later this year.

Q: How will new infrastructure projects, and those in the pipeline (railway and road projects) in liberated territories, especially in the Zangazur corridor, impact the volume of cargo transportation via Azerbaijan?

A: I think it will have a critical impact in a positive context, of course. Because the presence of the Zangazur corridor will allow cargo carriers both from Central Asia and Azerbaijan to use a shorter and faster route. It will also allow cargo carriers to have access to the Mediterranean ports of Turkiye, such as Mersin, for example.

The role and importance of the Zangazur corridor are very important, both in the context of connecting the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with the country’s main territory, i.e. ensuring economic growth, as well as in the global supply chains in general. This route is of great and key importance.

Q: Will you be so kind as to update our readers on the current and planned projects of TRACECA?

A: TRACECA now has several projects running in parallel. One of the most relevant is the GTrD project, which stands for Global Transit Document. The idea is to follow cargo in an online mode. More precisely, the idea is to create an ecosystem where on the basis of blockchain technology all participants of cargo transportation, including carriers, tax and customs control authorities, etc., could exchange information on a paperless basis. At the moment we are working on launching a pilot project, and training is being held. This program is being prepared jointly with Maersk and IBM, and technical support is provided by TRACECA and the International Center for Transport Diplomacy.

Of course, we expect that after the pilot project we will identify all aspects which require particular attention, and in the future, we plan and hope that we will be able to integrate it into the routine, i.e in transportation on the corridor.


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