Middle Corridor's Growing Importance For States Along Its Route

(MENAFN- AzerNews)
Middle Corridor
Elnur Enveroglu Read more

Providing safe and reliable access to new markets with anestimated population of over 80 million along the route, the MiddleCorridor, also known as the Trans-Caspian International TransportRoute, is gaining popularity as a key East-West connection. Lookingback almost a decade, the possibility of this huge project comingto fruition did not sound very realistic. However, especially inthe last 4 years, the rapidly changing geopolitical situation madeall the predictions come true. Obviously, following theRusso-Ukrainian war and subsequent sanctions, demand for openingthe project grew more than ever.

Besides, the Middle Corridor offers a route that is at least2,000 kilometers shorter than the Northern Corridor, which passesthrough Russia. This means a shorter route, with the potential tosave more time on a route between China and Europe to as little as12 days, while the Northern Corridor takes extra 7 days.

Moreover, international expert on Asian economics Raza Syed inhis article for The Times of Central Asia portal called theTrans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR, or MiddleCorridor) a flagship cooperation project for many countries,especially in light of the current geopolitical situation in theworld.

"New transportation corridors through which commodities and rawmaterials can be safely and quickly exported by all modes oftransportation are a vital task for many countries today. TheMiddle Corridor falls under these criteria, and in recent yearsthis route has experienced a new round of development as itconnects East and West, bypassing Russia, which is undersanctions," Syed notes.

He pointed out that this route covers 11,000 kilometers ofrailroads and includes ten seaports. The route starts in China inthe port of Lianyungang, passes through Xi'an to Urumqi, throughKazakhstan (dry ports of Khorgos and Dostyk and ports of Aktau andKuryk), Azerbaijan (port of Alat), Georgia, and then through theBlack Sea continues to Europe.

"It is important that this route is multimodal, i.e. rail, sea,and road transport can be used. The current capacity of theTrans-Caspian International Transport Route is 6 million tons peryear, and by 2025 it is planned to reach 10 million tons per year the potential of the Middle Corridor is large," the expertnotes.

The geography of the route is constantly expanding, and thenumber of TITR Association members has increased to 25 companies(11 countries).

Syed in his article relies on a recent World Bank researchconfirming that from a trade and economic point of view, TITRprimarily allows diversifying trade routes and improving transportaccessibility for Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kazakhstan.

"World Bank analysts forecast that under the scenario assumingimproved operational efficiency of the Middle Corridor, by 2030 thevolume of traffic through the Caspian Sea will triple from 2021 to11 million tons. About 4 million tons will be due to the projecteddemand for container transportation," the expert recalls.

He also quotes estimates by the European Bank for Reconstructionand Development, according to which the capacity of the TITR couldbe increased to 26 million tons by 2040, which would requireinfrastructure investments of 18.5 billion euros for Central Asiancountries.

The Asian Development Bank will provide a grant to develop astrategy for further development of the TITR route in 2024.

"In essence, the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route isa revival of the Great Silk Road in modern realities, includingsuch a relevant component as the Digital Silk Road, as the upcomingconstruction of a fiber-optic communication line along the CaspianSea bed will ensure the creation of a new digital telecommunicationcorridor between Europe and Asia," Syed emphasizes.



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