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Azerbaijani Section of Zangazur Corridor to Come Online in 2024

By Gunay Hajiyeva December 16, 2022

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A photo from the construction of the highway section of the Zangazur corridor in Azerbaijan / Courtesy

Azerbaijani authorities are determined to complete the country’s section of the Zangazur multi-modal transportation corridor within the next two years.

President Ilham Aliyev said the corridor’s opening is a priority for Azerbaijan and no effort was spared to make it happen.

“Today, we are actively engaged in the opening of the Zangazur corridor. 40 percent of the works on the railway line and 70 percent on the highway have been completed in the section of the Zangazur corridor on the territory of Azerbaijan. All works are expected to be completed in 2024, leading to the establishment of a new transport corridor,” he said during discussions with Turkmen and Turkish counterparts in Turkmenistan on Wednesday, which were covered by Azertag.

President Aliyev added that Azerbaijan has necessary maritime and railway capabilities to support the operation of the Zangazur corridor, including the Baku Sea Trade Port and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.

“The Baku International Sea Trade Port has an annual handling capacity of 15 million tons, with funding envisaged to increase its capacity to 25 million tons. Last year, we laid the foundation of the Alat Free Economic Zone on the shores of the Caspian Sea, and the first residents have already settled there,” he said.

According to President Aliyev, more than $100 million will be invested in the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway to increase its handling capacity from the current one million tons per year to five million tons.

The Zangazur corridor is expected to add momentum to the growing mutual trade volumes between Europe and Asia. The passage will restore the connection between Azerbaijan’s mainland with its southwestern exclave of Nakhchivan with a further spur into the Turkish market.

The Zangazur corridor is one of the biggest construction projects of its kind in the South Caucasus, while it's expected to create plenty of economic benefits for the region.

Azerbaijan has been actively restoring the vital Horadiz-Aghband railroad that stretches to the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border in the country’s Zangilan district as an integral part of the Zangazur corridor. The project is being implemented in three stages and spans 110.4 kilometers in length. The railway is expected to go online sometime in 2023.

Azerbaijani authorities are convinced that such regional transportation projects as the Zangazur Corridor could foster peace and cooperation and create new business opportunities. According to some analysts, the corridor will form an essential link in the East-West and North-South transport corridors to benefit all regional countries and contribute to the Eurasian trade and transport communications that incorporate the regional economies with a nominal GDP of $1.1 trillion.

At the same time, the country’s multimodal transport infrastructure, including the Baku Sea Trade Port on the Caspian Sea coast and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway stretching from Azerbaijan to Türkiye through Georgia, are expected to complement the Zangazur corridor.

In the meantime, the corridor is expected to give momentum to trade ties between Türkiye and the five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

The Turkish exports to Kazakhstan increased from $460 million in 2005 to $979 million in 2020, according to data compiled by the Kazakhstan-based Eurasian Research Institute. Over the same period, exports to Kyrgyzstan grew from $90 million to $416 million and to Tajikistan from $47 million to $173 million. In 2020, Turkmenistan imported products worth $786 million, while in 2005, this figure stood at $181 million. Uzbekistan came on top of Türkiye’s trade partners in Central Asia in 2020. The value of Turkish exports to Uzbekistan increased from $151 million in 2005 to $1.15 billion in 2020. Turkish exports to Central Asian markets totaled $3.5 billion in 2020.