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Kazakhstan Ratifies Key Agreements with China to Strengthen Trans-Caspian Transport Corridor

By Vusala Abbasova May 31, 2024

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Compared to the Northern Corridor, the Middle Corridor is more economical and faster as a trade route between Europe and Asia, reducing travel distance by 2,000 kilometers. / Central Communication Services

On Wednesday, Kazakhstan’s lower house of Parliament, the Mazhilis, ratified two pivotal agreements with China aimed at bolstering the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), also recognized as the Middle Corridor.

The first of these agreements, which has already received ratification from China, focuses on enhancing infrastructure for road, rail, and sea transport. It aims to create favorable conditions for cargo transportation and develop logistics centers in both countries.

“The agreement will boost trade and economic cooperation, increasing cargo volumes between Kazakhstan and China,” Report.az quoted Kazakh Minister of Transport, Marat Karabaev, as stating.

The second agreement outlines measures to streamline the transport of goods through the TITR. It emphasizes the development of container transportation by trains between China and Europe, confirming the potential annual volume of cargo transportation through the TITR. Additionally, it aims to support the financing of TITR’s oil pipeline and port infrastructure projects and enhance transit cargo transportation between the two nations.

As of May 1, 2024, cargo transportation via TITR increased by 14 percent from the previous year, reaching 1.4 million tonnes, including equipment, consumer goods, and agricultural products.

Last week marked a significant trial transit shipment along the TITR, with three trucks carrying 80 tonnes of goods from Urumqi, China, to the port of Kuryk in Kazakhstan, continuing on to Azerbaijan and Georgia. This marked the first instance of vehicles from both countries being able to directly travel to major trading cities and make transit journeys through their territories.

Karabaev also highlighted the integration of Kazakhstan’s transport systems with those of Azerbaijan and China. The newly implemented information systems allow real-time tracking of cargo, reducing errors from 30 to six percent.

Compared to the Northern Corridor, the Middle Corridor is more economical and faster as a trade route between Europe and Asia, reducing travel distance by 2,000 kilometers. The multimodal land and sea transport route stretches from China through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, and, across the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Black Sea and Türkiye.

The route consists of approximately 4,250 km of rail lines and about 500 km of seaway. The ultimate destination of the corridor is the European marketplace via Türkiye and the Black Sea.

The Middle Corridor also offers more favorable climate conditions and shortens travel time by 15 days compared to the sea route. Furthermore, it provides significant opportunities for cargo traffic in Asia, allowing loads to reach the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean region by integrating port connections in Türkiye.

Effectively utilized, the Middle Corridor is expected to create crucial economic opportunities, enabling South Caucasian and Central Asian countries to benefit from the $600 billion annual China-Europe trade. Particularly, the establishment of logistical centers and free trade zones at the ports of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan will facilitate the development and deepening of Trans-Caspian cooperation.

Kazakhstan serves as a vital link in the East-West connectivity between China and Europe. The country’s strategic location and access to the Caspian Sea offer unparalleled transit capacity, fostering the realization of East-West transport projects.