After Russia imposed a ban on the transit of Turkish trucks, a new, Caspian route has come to the fore as an alternative. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan already saw an opportunity to cash in on the deteriorated relations. Astana expects an increase in turnover through the Europe-Caucasus-Asia Transport corridor (TRACECA) and an opportunity for Kazakh producers due to directing the Turkish transit to Central Asia through Caucasus. As the trade turnover between Russia and Turkey is now down by 20%, Kazakhstan says Turkish transportation is just stuck on the borders. In response, Astana is considering flexible and better conditions for transporting goods via the Trans-Caspian direction. The TRACECA program which was established in 1993 unites all the three Caucasian states with the five Central Asian ones.
Azerbaijan already came fore as the relations started to deteriorate. National Secretary expressed readiness to ensure the transit of goods from Turkey to Central Asian countries and promised to create appropriate conditions at the border posts so Turkish trucks could easily enter Azerbaijan. The conditions are directed at keeping the transit through Azerbaijan even after the relations are improved. Before about 30,000 out of total 200,000 Turkish trucks were passing through Azerbaijan, but Baku promises the conditions to pass the whole volume by help of Caspian Sea ferries. As a result, Azerbaijan expects 4-5 times increase of the current revenue worth of about $350 million from transportation via TRACECA. In this line Azerbaijan already made 40% reduction in the transit cost of cargo transportations to Kazakhstan’s Aktau and Turkmenistan’s Turkmenbashi posts. The new tariff set is $1,200 for one car with a trailer in one direction and $2,100 for a round-trip.
For Turkey, the alternative route can offer new markets and reduce transportation expenses. But for this extent of involvement, it also needs to urgently complete construction of Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway, currently 76 kilometers long that will directly connect Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. About $1 billion worth of Turkish foods and vegetables to Russia are now considered for Caucasus and Central Asia. Turkey also hopes to share profits from China-EU trade by being part of the transportation. Current trade volume between the two worth of $615 billion is expected to grow to $800 billion by 2020. The Caspian transit corridor is one of the three routes, which looks prospective as considers less than half of the expenses accrued using the route through Russia.
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