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WB Regional Director: Now is right time to improve competitiveness of Middle Corridor

27 November 2023 [16:00] - TODAY.AZ
Abbas Ganbay

According to World Bank Regional Director for Infrastructure in Europe and Central Asia Charles Cormier, today is the right time to improve the competitiveness of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Corridor, expand its capacity, increase efficiency, and reduce costs, Azernews reports.

"Short-term efficiency improvements through institutional and operational measures, along with medium-term investments, will strengthen the functioning of the Middle Corridor and activate its potential," Cormier said.

The Trans-Caspian International Transport Corridor (TITC), also known as the Middle Corridor, is a multilateral, multimodal transport institution linking the containerized rail freight transport networks of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the European Union through the economies of Central Asia, the Caucasus, Turkiye, and Eastern Europe. The Middle Corridor has the potential to reduce the time needed to ship goods between East Asia and Europe to as few as twelve days, making it a competitive alternative to the Northern Corridor and seaborne trade via the Indian Ocean.

The countries along the trade route have actively collaborated to turn the Middle Corridor into a reality, with Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kazakhstan leading the way. Kazakhstan likely sees its construction of a key segment of the Middle Corridor as important for its Bright Path (Nurly Zhol) domestic development strategy and its grand strategy of better balancing its foreign relations with Beijing and Moscow.

China has also been keen on the Middle Corridor, as it gives Chinese industry greater access to international markets and the Chinese government more clout in Central Asia. Turkiye has also seen the corridor as a way to build stronger economic ties with Central Asia and improve its strategic position. It has inked agreements with Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, and Kazakhstan to improve the corridor's connectivity to Europe, and is completing the Edirne-Kars High-Speed Railway and the Northern Marmara Highway.

The Middle Corridor is becoming an important transport artery along the Belt and Road Initiative. After the Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world, got stuck in the Suez Canal in March 2021, which halted shipping for a week, many turned their attention to the TITR. The Chinese side was especially interested in new opportunities because the TITR has made it possible to deliver goods along a more convenient and shorter route than the Suez Canal.

Now is the right time to increase the competitiveness of the Middle Corridor, expand its capacity, improve efficiency, and reduce costs. This will ensure that the Middle Corridor is a reliable, safe, and politically independent logistics route that connects the largest producers and largest consumers of the continent.


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