In addition to the China-led New Silk Road, Eurasian players are boosting the development of the North-South International Transport Corridor which aims to connect South Asian countries with North and Western Europe. Remarkably, Russia is regarded as the backbone of the two projects.
The latest trilateral summit of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia in Baku has indicated the powers’ intention to boost strategic cooperation and accelerate the development of the North-South International Transport Corridor project.
“A huge flow of goods will soon cross the Russian Federation not only from the East to the West [via New Silk Road], but also from the South to the North. Moscow is opening the door for South Asian countries,” Russian online media outlet PolitRussia.com reports, commenting on the matter.
The North-South International Transport Corridor (ITC) is the ship, rail and road route which aims to increase transit and foreign trade freight flows within the Eurasian continent.
The initiative to connect the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea and beyond to North and Western Europe via the Russian Federation was kicked off back in September 2000 in St. Petersburg by Russia, Iran and India. The agreement was ratified by the founding states in 2002.
The new corridor, which is stretching for 7,200 kilometers (4,478 miles), offers a number of tangible benefits for the participants of the project.
However, its major advantage compared to other transport routes, most notably the Suez Canal, is that it will reduce the transportation distance at least by half, thereby cutting the transit time and cost.
As of yet, the corridor still lacks about 172 km of railroad track between Azerbaijan and Iran.
However, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev asserted his counterparts during the meeting in Baku that the section will be soon completed,according to RIA Novosti.
Nevertheless, in 2015 the volume of foreign trade cargo transported through the North-South ITC amounted to 7.3 million tones, marking a 4 percent increase in comparison with 2014.
“The North-South Corridor project laid a basis for cooperation between regional countries to achieve the goal of regional development. This transportation route links India to Europe via a safer and shorter path and a very important one for Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia,” Jahangir Karami, Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Tehran, told Valdaiclub.com.
It should be noted, that besides Russia, Iran, India and Azerbaijan the North-South Corridor project is expected to include Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine, Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Iraq, Oman, Syria and Turkey.
Along with the New Silk Road (One Belt, One Road) initiative, the North-South International Transport Corridor will boost the integration of the Eurasian space, ensuring the rapid economic growth of Eurasia’s regional players as well as stability and security on the continent.
The Russian president said that Russia was ready to discuss pipeline infrastructure use with Iran and Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea
BAKU (Sputnik) – Russia is ready to discuss mutually beneficial pipeline infrastructure use with Iran and Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the first trilateral summit.
“Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan can discuss the implementation of new energy and transport projects in the Caspian Sea… We really have something to talk about in this format. There may be new projects in the Caspian Sea, and in a broader context, I mean transportation, energy, and the diversification of trade and economic relations,” Putin said.
“Implementing oil and gas exploration and development projects, primarily in the Caspian region, are seen as priorities. We are ready to discuss mutually beneficial plans for the shared use of pipeline infrastructure to transport raw materials,” he added.