Unblocking Caucasus Transport Corridors Between Russia & Azerbaijan
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk has stated at the “Current state and prospects of Russian-Azerbaijani relations in the context of integrated processes” conference in Baku, that active work is now underway to unblock transport communications in the South Caucasus.
Russia needs to open up new supply chain routes in the wake of the massive wave of sanctions that has enveloped much of its European potential and start to improve transport and logistics to the East. That includes routes from Russia and the Caucasus, no easy feat in that the significant Caucasus mountain ranges divide the two regions. Russia needs to develop better access especially through to Baku, Azerbaijan’s major Caspian Sea Port. That gives Russia better trade access through to Armenia, its Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) trade partner, the Caucasus markets of Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as west to Turkey and beyond to EU markets in Bulgaria and Romania.
West from Baku, goods can be connected through to Kazakhstan and onto China, while south they can head via the INSTC to Iran, the Middle East, East Africa, and onto India and South Asia. It is important therefore that the South Caucasus bottleneck be solved.
Overchuk said that “This refers to the prospects of Russian-Azerbaijani relations in the context of the integration of economic processes. Active work is underway to unblock transport communications. We would like to talk about the potential that the integration processes that are taking place in Eurasia carry.
Speaking about international relations, we mean a Macro Region. We see what processes are going on in North America, Southeast Asia, we follow the processes of implementing the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. In fact, little is said about integration into the Eurasian economic zone. Now we need to develop and do everything possible to strengthen regional relations. Strengthening relations according to the formula of individual countries lead to the concept of multi-level integration,” he said.
According to Overchuk, during the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union, several countries aiming at regional integration have immediately joined this structure. These include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan as part of the EAEU, together with Commonwealth of Independent (CIS) member states Azerbaijan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
“We are moving along the path of economic integration. Today we see that the region is turning into a Macro Region, a single cooperation in the production and delivery of goods is being established. Today we are working to create a space for working citizens and the transportation of goods. The aggregate GDP of the EAEU countries amounted to US$1.3 trillion, trade between the member countries of the organization – US$55 billion. There is outstripping growth in trade. From January through September 2021, trade rose 32.7 percent. We reached the pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels and exceeded them by about 10 percent. In our internal borders, we actually abandoned all types of control, except for border control,” Overchuk said.
He also stressed that the free movement of people is an important factor. “Paying the same taxes without discrimination is a very important indicator.” he said, referring to cross-border tariffs parity.
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