Working group of Türkiye, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan established on Middle Corridor

A working group comprising Türkiye, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan was established Monday on the Trans-Caspian International Transport Corridor, or the so called Middle Corridor, which means the network of railways and roads starting in Türkiye and covering Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea and Central Asia and reaches China, making it an important effort to revive the ancient Silk Road.

Turkish Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu attended the trilateral meeting of the foreign and transport ministers of Türkiye, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, according to a statement by the Turkish Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, Anadolu Agency reported in Ankara.

At the meeting held in Baku, the working group was established at the suggestion of Türkiye with a protocol signed for increasing the capacity and efficiency of the corridor.

During his speech, Karaismailoglu said the Middle Corridor is a strong alternative to other transportation corridors in terms of distance and time.

“If a freight train departing from China to Europe chooses the Middle Corridor and Türkiye, it covers 7,000 kilometers (4,349 miles) in 12 days,” he said, adding if the same train prefers the Russian north trade route, it will take at least 15 days and 45-60 days by preferring the Suez Canal. Contrary to his view, there have been complaints from the rail freight sector that the transit time from China to Europe via the Middle Corridor is too long, taking 30 to 40 days.

Even these figures reveal how advantageous and secure the Middle Corridor is in global trade between Asia and Europe, he added. Karaismailoglu recalled that the container ship Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal in March last year, creating problems for the global supply chain.

“As a result of this accident, the channel was closed for six days, and the waiting of hundreds of food, oil and LNG ships put the global supply chain in jeopardy. Considering all these issues, the effective functioning of the Middle Corridor is important for the integration of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and the Caspian Region into global trade. Taking into account the fact that we are at the center of the Asian-European foreign trade networks in our region, we aim to be a regional base in logistics,” he said.

Stressing that the countries on the route have serious responsibilities to develop trade and increase the efficiency of the line, he said they should boost the volume of freight transported by rail to strengthen its competitiveness.

Karaismailoglu said they must also solve the problem of tolls and transit pass documents in transportation to increase trade among the three countries.

“I believe that we should all do the necessary work on these issues by preparing the legal ground befitting our brotherhood. The elimination of these problems in the short term will please us all and will contribute positively to our trade,” he added.