Orient to the East: Turkmenistan is working on creating a seamless North-South MTK route

Due to its geographical location, Turkmenistan plays an important role in the development of global supply chains, including the international transport corridor "North-South", Director General of the Agency for Transport and Communications under the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan Mammethan Chakyev said at the XIV International Economic Forum "Russia — Islamic World: Kazanforum 2023" on Thursday. The head of the Transport and Communications Department of Turkmenistan, speaking at the session dedicated to the North-South ITC, pointed out the great potential of his country in the logistics of transit flows, especially taking into account the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway, which is the eastern branch of the North-South direction. He noted that the Eastern route of this corridor, according to economic estimates, will require less capital expenditures compared to other routes, and added that Turkmenistan has launched the procedure for joining this MTK. He also spoke about working with representatives of Russia, Kazakhstan and Iran to ensure seamless service, the formation of a single end-to-end tariff throughout the route. To date, the main flow of cargo transportation along the North-South corridor in Turkmenistan is attracted by the Serakhs – the southern border crossing with Iran, but there is also the Akayla-Incheburun crossing in the west of the country, which can increase the volume of transit. The possibility of using another direction is being developed – through the Artyk station on the Ashgabat-Mary line, where a private cargo terminal for transshipment of goods between rail and road transport has been built and started functioning. In the development of multimodal transportation, Turkmenistan is also working to provide preferential conditions for drivers, including simplified visa rules and tariffs. One of the promising directions of the North-South transport corridor is the international seaport of Turkmenbashi. In order to increase cargo transportation through the Caspian Sea, a logistics center of Turkmenistan will be created in the port special economic zone "SEZ "Lotos" of the Astrakhan region. Another serious incentive for the growth of freight traffic will be construction of a new highway Turkmenbashi – Garabogaz - the border of Kazakhstan. Investments in this project will allow to activate cargo and passenger communications between the countries, and its expansion to the territory of Kazakhstan and further across Russia will strengthen the international transport and transit infrastructure and improve the quality of logistics services. At the same time, Turkmenistan is focusing on the introduction of digital technologies in the field of transport and logistics to ensure transparency, reliability and safety of cargo transportation. Automated cargo tracking systems, electronic documents and online platforms will reduce bureaucratic procedural barriers and speed up cargo handling. Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Marat Khusnullin, speaking on this topic, noted that the development of transit routes in the directions of the Caspian region, South and Southeast Asia, and the Persian Gulf countries is a priority for the Russian Federation. "We believe that by 2025 cargo turnover in this direction should double – to at least 30 million tons, and by 2030 – to 35 million tons. This is 155% more compared to 2021," Khusnullin said. The North–South corridor includes three main routes: the Western one – through the Republic of Dagestan by road and rail, the Trans–Caspian one – through the Caspian Sea by sea and river transport along the Volga to Iranian and Turkmen ports, and the Eastern one - through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan by road and rail. "Together with the republics of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iraq, India, and the Islamic Republic of Iran, infrastructure development plans should be formed so that there are no bottlenecks on the route and the economy of infrastructure projects works rhythmically," the Russian deputy chairman stressed. The Head of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov in his speech called the international transport corridor "North – South" a key element of the transport framework of Eurasia. "The corridor is of particular importance for the Eurasian Economic Union as an important alternative corridor for economic development and as a response to the economic and political influence of the European Union. During our foreign trips and meetings, the topic of transport corridors and logistics is always discussed. Last year we visited Iran and saw how much the Iranian side is interested in the development of this direction. The same can be said about Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Therefore, these issues are the most important," Rustam Minnikhanov said.

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