Azerbaijan can take lead in making Middle Corridor more competitive - Ex-US ambassador to Turkmenistan

Transport Opinion 19 September 2022 08:59
Baku, Azerbaijan Trend News Agency Maryana Akhmedova
Azerbaijan can take lead in making Middle Corridor more competitive - Ex-US ambassador to Turkmenistan

Azerbaijan can play a crucial role in urging the countries of Central Asia to assist in making the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), so-called the Middle Corridor, more competitive, Allan Mustard, co-founder and co-head of the Trans-Caspian Resources energy startup, Former US Ambassador to Turkmenistan, told Trend.

“The Middle Corridor, as it is called, could potentially become very important, but for that the countries of Central Asia need to address border crossing inefficiencies and make it more competitive,” he said.

Azerbaijan can play a critical role in getting other countries along the Middle Corridor, as well as along East-West and North-South corridors, to increase the value of these routes by “reducing delays in crossing borders, allowing goods in transit to clear customs quickly, and generally making the corridors more efficient,” the former ambassador said.

Regarding the Zangazur Corridor project, he said that it will mainly serve as an important regional transportation asset.

“I compare it to the highway across Canada connecting the United States to Alaska, since most freight to Alaska moves by sea or pipeline. The highway is important but not high-volume. I expect the bulk of international trade to continue to flow via the Baku–Tbilisi–Kars railway and the highway and rail line connecting Baku with Georgia’s seaports,” he explained.

Speaking further, Mustard added that, in general, reliable and fast rail routes and sea lanes are the critical pieces of physical infrastructure for increasing the efficiency of international trade in break bulk and dry bulk goods. In this regard, expanding the capacity of the Southern Gas Corridor will likely be very important, as would expansion of rail capacity between Baku and Georgia, and Georgia and Turkiye.