Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia Guram Guramishvili.27.02.2024

Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia Guram Guramishvili.27.02.2024

Against the backdrop of a recently published World Bank study titled "Trade and Transport Medium Corridor," Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, became the focal point for discussions on optimizing cargo transportation and reducing travel time along the Middle Corridor. Attended by representatives from the governments of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Armenia, alongside stakeholders from state-owned enterprises, the private sector, and think tanks, the event aimed to chart a path towards unlocking the full potential of this vital trade route.

Deputy Minister of Digital Development and Transport of Azerbaijan, Rahman Gummatov, underscored Azerbaijan's unwavering commitment to bolstering the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (Middle Corridor) and harnessing its capacity as a reliable link. Gummatov highlighted recent advancements, including streamlined procedures and enhanced maritime operations, resulting in notable improvements in transit times. Notably, the delivery time for containers from China to the Georgian port has been significantly reduced to just 12 days, down from the previous 40-50 days.

Furthermore, Gummatov outlined plans to increase the Middle Corridor's capacity through the Zangezur corridor, projecting an annual capacity of 8-10 million tons. He emphasized ongoing infrastructure projects in liberated territories, including the reconstruction of roads and railways, and the creation of a transport link from the East Zangezur Economic Region to Turkey.

Sapar Bektasov, Director of the Department of Transport Policy of the Ministry of Transport of Kazakhstan, called for a comprehensive strategy for the Middle Corridor until 2040, taking into account future economic and environmental changes. He proposed the development of standards to ensure quality assurance and enhance user experience along the corridor.

Khudayar Hasanli, head of management at Baku International Commercial Sea Port CJSC, emphasized the importance of infrastructure development for the Middle Corridor's expansion. Hasanli announced plans for the construction of a container terminal at the Baku port, aimed at facilitating container transportation between Baku and Georgian ports.

Gaidar Abdikerimov, Secretary General of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route International Association, echoed the significance of digitalization for the Middle Corridor's growth, projecting an increase in capacity to 111 thousand containers per year.

However, Victor Aragones, a Transport economist at the World Bank, highlighted operational inefficiencies and coordination challenges along the corridor. Aragones stressed the need for a unified information system and improved coordination among stakeholders to enhance the corridor's economic potential and competitiveness.

The Middle Corridor, a multilateral multimodal transport infrastructure, connects China's container rail freight networks with those of the European Union through Central Asia, the Caucasus, Turkey, and Eastern Europe. Its strategic importance lies in facilitating cargo traffic between China and Europe, fostering economic integration, and reducing transportation times, thereby bolstering regional trade and connectivity.

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