North-South Transport Corridor to become viable with obvious benefits of regional co-op
The importance of the North-South International Transport Corridor must be considered in several directions, including as part of cooperation between Russia and the Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan and Russia, as well as in the Azerbaijan-Russia-Iran format, editor-in-chief of the Day.az news agency, economist Emin Aliyev told during the Moscow-Baku video conference entitled “North-South Transport Corridor: regional integration prospects”.
The video conference was organized by the representative office of the North-South political science center in Baku, Trend News Agency and Caspian Expert Club.
Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan has successful experience in establishing certain, bilateral and multilateral formats of cooperation with various countries in the region and the world.
"Azerbaijan has greatly advanced in integration cooperation with Turkey and Georgia,” Aliyev said. “The implementation of a number of large-scale pipeline and infrastructure projects testifies to that.”
“At the same time, we have advanced in cooperation with Russia’s certain regions, namely, the Astrakhan region, the Krasnodar region, the Stavropol region and the North Caucasus republic,” he said.
“Such formats must be expanded,” Aliyev said. “I think the deeper will be this cooperation, the more active will be the economic activity of the North-South International Transport Corridor."
“The project will not become viable till carriers want to use it,” he said.
“In my opinion, the political will of the regional countries is not enough for the successful implementation of the project,” Aliyev said. “It will become viable when the obvious benefits of cooperation on the North-South International Transport Corridor are visible.”
“In some sense, the evolutionary process of the North-South International Transport Corridor is possible by overcoming the Soviet legacy, unifying the infrastructure of post-Soviet countries and tariffs,” he said.
“The simplification of customs procedures on the border with Georgia, where the inspection processes were greatly simplified and expedited, the cargo transportation period was reduced, can be cited as an example,” Aliyev added.
“It has become much easier and convenient for Azerbaijani businessmen to export goods across the Georgian border than it was 6-7 years ago," he said.
“Similar steps must be taken on the Azerbaijani-Russian border and on the border with Iran,” Aliyev said.
The International North–South Transport Corridor is designed for the transportation of goods from India and the countries of the Persian Gulf to Russia, Western Europe, the Baltic and Scandinavia.
If cargo transportation by sea through the Persian Gulf, the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean Sea to Helsinki takes 45-60 days, the delivery time along the "North-South" corridor will take 20-25 days.
Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia signed an agreement in 2005 on the construction of 375 km long railway segments in Iran between Astara and the Azerbaijan-Iran border, and the reconstruction of an existing railway in Azerbaijan to develop transportation in this area.
The Astara-Rasht-Qazvin railway project envisages the construction of a new railway line in Iran, which will connect the Azerbaijani city of Astara to the Iranian cities of Astara, Rasht and Qazvin.