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Countries will be connected by ferry

The port of Turkmenbashi will become a new point of multimodal international communication

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Russian government agencies together with their counterparts from Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have discussed the prospects of opening shipping lines between the ports of Astrakhan and Turkmenbashi port. This measure will increase the cargo flow between Russia and Central Asian countries. 

The talks were attended by representatives of the Federal Agency of Sea and River Transport, the government of the Astrakhan Region as well as delegations from Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. Representatives of Uzbekistan joined the discussion online.

According to Ilya Volynsky, Minister of Industry, Trade and Energy of the Astrakhan Region, the total cargo turnover of the seaports of Astrakhan and Olya for last year was about 3 million tons, or 14.5% more than in 2021.

It should be noted that both ports are located in the Caspian region and have road and rail access. The ports of Olya and Astrakhan are important for transportation along the North-South international transport corridor (ITC), linking Russia with the Iranian ports of Bandar-Enzeli and Bandar-Amirabad.

To develop trade along the Kyrgyzstan - Uzbekistan - Turkmenistan – Russia route it is planned to organize transportation of goods to the Turkmen port of Turkmenbashi with further delivery along the Caspian Sea to Astrakhan.

"The opening of a regular shipping line between the ports of Olya and Turkmenbashi will significantly reduce the cargo delivery time and save money," said Ilya Volynsky. - It (the line - Ed.) will contribute to the formation of additional traffic along the North – South corridor and in the future will ensure the effective work of Turkmenistan's logistics center in the Astrakhan Region. We offer our foreign colleagues a possibility to use the infrastructure of the Astrakhan Region to transport cargoes to the countries of South-East and Central Asia and back along the trans-Caspian route".

According to Igor Smirnov, Director for Cargo Transport and Logistics at the Infrastructure Economics Center, the opening of the ferry line will first of all create another transport route between Russia and Central Asian countries. 

"Trade relations between Russia and Central Asian countries have been stable in recent years and there is even a slight increase in commodity flows in this market," Igor Smirnov told 1520 International. - Russia sends to this market a large volume of goods related to different industries: from raw materials to manufacturing goods. Imports are mainly concentrated in the segment of food products".

According to the forecasts of the expert, the demand for transportation on the new route will most likely focus on the links between Russia and Central Asian countries. The shipping line's potential will strongly depend on the development of terminal infrastructure in the Caspian ports both in Russia and in Turkmenistan.

In addition, there is a need to develop the fleet on the Caspian Sea thus providing lower costs and tariffs for transportation on this route. The main competition will come from overland routes, which are already actively used for transportation in this direction.

At the meeting representatives of Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan have already expressed their interest in development of regular shipping lines on the Caspian Sea.

"We are interested in developing a new intermodal route from Kyrgyzstan to Russia via Uzbekistan to Turkmenbashi port and then by sea to the ports of Astrakhan," said Adylbek Akmatov, head of the Automobile and Railway Transport Department of the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Kyrgyz Republic.

In particular, he said, it is necessary to develop container transportation, as well as to increase the number of Ro-Ro car ferries.

Deputy Chairman of the Turkmen Sea and River Routes agency of the Transport and Communications Administration under the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan Seyitguly Baysayidov noted their readiness to provide preferential tariffs for cargo carriers, attract their shipping companies to increase cargo traffic in the direction Astrakhan – Turkmenbashi port.

The negotiators agreed to explore the issue of creating a regular shipping line between the ports of Olya and Turkmenbashi and attract an operator company to its operations. In this context, two companies have expressed willingness to become this route operator. 

An agreement was also reached to develop a road map for implementation of the project on opening regular shipping lines in the Caspian Sea.

Anna Yakusheva

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