(MENAFN - AzerNews) By Leman Mammadova
The first transit cargo arrived at the Baku International Sea Trade Port via the Lapis Lazuli international route, Trend reported on December25.
Afghan and Turkish ambassadors to Azerbaijan, representatives of embassies of Georgia and Turkmenistan attended the ceremony dedicated to the arrival of the first cargo to Azerbaijan via this route.
Ambassador of Afghanistan to Azerbaijan Khairullah Spelenai expressed gratitude to the government of Azerbaijan for comprehensive support and assistance in the implementation of the project.
He noted that the Lapis Lazuli corridor will be expanded and Afghanistan will make every effort to make this route the most important one from Afghanistan to Europe.
In turn, Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Erkan Ozoral noted the importance of the route for Afghanistan and other countries. He said that this route will turn into an important corridor that will provide access of Afghan goods to world markets. The ambassador noted that Lapis Lazuli is of strategic importance for Turkey and Azerbaijan.
In total, nine trucks arrived, which left the Afghan province of Herat onDecember 13. The total amount of cargo arrived is 175 tons. These are mostly food products.
India is also interested in joining the Lapis Lazuli international route.
The Lapis-Lazuli route will allow the participating countries to diversify their access to regional and continental markets. This, in turn, will lead to the economic development of the countries lying along this corridor. Azerbaijan, for instance, will get huge benefits being a transit country.
The project budget, which aims to facilitate transit logistics and simplify customs procedures, is estimated at $ 2 billion.
Afghanistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia signed an agreement on the creation of the Lapis Lazuli transport corridorset to connect five countries at the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan on November 15, 2017.
The trans-regional corridor will encompass mainly railways and highways, which will connect the city of Torghundi in the Afghan province of Herat with the port of Turkmenbashi on the shore of the Caspian Sea via Ashgabat.
From Turkmenbashi, goods will be able to travel further by ferry to Baku, where they would be placed on train cars and continue westward to Europe across the South Caucasus via the newly launched Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. Further, the corridor will pass through Tbilisi to Ankara with branches to Poti and Batumi, and, then, from Ankara to Istanbul.
Barriers to regional trade and transit and transaction costs will be reduced, in part, through a new Custom Integration Procedure and, between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, a new Cross-Border Transport Agreement. Its projected impact is considerable not only because most of the needed infrastructure is already in place, but also because most of the investment required will focus on improving policy and governance.
The name ‘Lapis Lazuli' is derived from the historic route that Afghanistan's lapis lazuli and other semiprecious stones were exported along, over 2,000 years ago, to the Caucasus, Russia, the Balkans, Europe, and North Africa.
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