North-South Transport Corridor May Be Transferred to Azerbaijan

The headquarters of the "North-South" transport corridor, which is currently located in Iran, may be moved to Azerbaijan, reports Akif Mustafayev, the National Secretary of the Transport Cooperation Program (TRACECA- Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia) for Azerbaijan.

“Sanctions are a huge obstacle to the development of Iran's railway infrastructure, and many companies that have concluded billion-dollar agreements in Iran to build the country’s rail networks leave the country. Iran is an important participant in the North-South transport corridor and further development of the corridor depends on the railway infrastructure of Iran,” Mustafayev noted.

The National Secretary noted that Azerbaijan provided Iran with a $500 million loan for the construction of the railway section of Resht-Astara [part of the North-South transport corridor]. The next step in this direction is the modernization of the railway infrastructure from Resht to the port of Bandar Abbas on the territory of Iran, which was complicated after a new wave of US sanctions.

“Despite the problems due to the sanctions, the railway from Resht to the port of Bandar Abbas should be built for full-scale transportation of cargo along the corridors TRACECA and North-South. In view of the current situation, we would like to transfer the headquarters of the corridor to Baku, to increase the efficiency of the corridor. Baku has good relations with both the US and Russia, as well as with other countries in the region,” Mustafayev said.

The National Secretary highlighted that 176 projects have been implemented in the framework of TRACECA in recent years, and that TRACECA headquarters in Baku has sufficient experience to implement major projects, which is a favorable ground for transferring North-South management to the TRACECA office base.

According to Mustafayev, the concentration of the centers of the two transport corridors can positively influence the increase in the volume of cargo traffic in these directions.

The transport corridor "North-South" is designed to connect Northern Europe with South-East Asia, including the unification of the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. At the first stage, it is planned to transport six million tons of cargo per year along the "North-South" corridor, and later - 15-20 million tons of cargo.

The cargo will pass through the territory of India and further through the Persian Gulf, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia towards the Scandinavian states and Northern Europe in just 14 days.

TRACECA is an international transport program involving the European Union and 14 member states of the Eastern European, Caucasian and Central Asian region.

By Dimitri Dolaberidze

19 July 2018 19:17