Having developed bilateral relations in many spheres, Azerbaijan and South Korea are keen to develop cooperation in transport using all their potential in this field.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway is the shortest route between China and Europe, Javid Gurbanov, Chairman of Azerbaijan Railways CJSC, said at a meeting with President of Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL) Son Byung-Seok in Seoul.
During the meeting held with the participation of big delegations, Son Byung-Seok thanked Javid Gurbanov for his support in the issue of the membership of the KORAIL in the Organisation for Cooperation of Railways and its participation in the 34th meeting of Directors General.
In turn, Gurbanov told about the transport and logistics potential of Azerbaijan and the transformations carried out in the country’s railways.
He presented detailed information on the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, the North-South, and South-West transport corridors and the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route.
He said that the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route provides transportation of goods from China to Europe and in the opposite direction. One of the most important achievements in increasing the competitiveness of the Middle Corridor is the commissioning of the BTK railway corridor, he noted.
Being an integral part of the Middle Corridor, the BTK is the shortest route between China and Europe, he said. The KORAIL could consider joining the Middle Corridor project in order to carry out regular shipments to Europe, using the wide terminal capabilities of the Lianyungang and Busan Ports.
As part of the meeting, the sides discussed issues of expanding bilateral ties.
During the visit to South Korea, the Azerbaijani delegation also got acquainted with the work of the Busan Port.
Providing the shortest rail link between Europe and Asia, BTK plays an important role in the implementation of China’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy and the International North-South Transport Corridor.
In fact, the BTK railway route is the shortest way to deliver cargo from the Russian regions located in the Volga, Ural and Siberian Federal Districts to the Mediterranean ports of Turkey, and further to the countries of Africa and the Middle East.
At present, the BTK provides transportation from Kazakhstan to Mersin Port. Some cargoes are delivered from Russia to Turkey and Europe.
The total length of the BTK railway is 846 km, with 504 km running through the territory of Azerbaijan, 263 km – Georgia and 79 km – Turkey.
The opening ceremony of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was held on October 30, 2017, at the Baku International Sea Trade Port. At the initial stage, the volume of freight will be at the level of 6.5 million tons of cargo, and up to 1 million passengers will be transported. This capacity will then reach 3 million passengers and 17 million tons of cargo.
Regular passenger transportation by BTK is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2019.
The main purpose of the project is to improve economic relations between the three countries and attract foreign direct investment by connecting Europe and Asia.
BTK railway does not only strengthen economies of the countries in the region by boosting their transit potential but also plays the role of a guarantor of stability and security in the region.
The Middle Corridor initiative was launched to provide an alternative to the northern routes of the New Silk Road, which transport cargo through Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, to Europe at the border with Poland.
Providing another gateway to Europe via the Black Sea, the Middle Corridor runs from China to Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia to Turkey.
Azerbaijan and South Korea are actively cooperating in areas such as infrastructure, energy, construction, transport, information technology, environment, alternative energy.
Two countries are further developing bilateral economic ties with each passing day and both enjoy its positive outcomes.
Recently, Azerbaijan and South Korea have signed a framework agreement on grant support.
In 2017, the trade turnover between the two countries was $85.5 million, a number that has doubled within 11 months in 2018, and has reached $150 million.
The South Korean side has invested about $ 180 million in the Azerbaijani economy, and Azerbaijan has invested $ 474 million in South Korea.