Turkey connects the Caucasus with Central Asia
26 May 2021
he Kyrgyz company UBS transit CJSC and the Turkish Arkas Logistic have launched a new multimodal route for the delivery of goods from Turkey to Kyrgyzstan and back by rail and by sea.
The day before, on May 20, the first cargo in 40 containers was received in Osh, delivered along a new route.From Turkey, goods are transported by rail through Georgia to Azerbaijan, then by sea they are delivered to Turkmenistan, where they are loaded onto trains, and then by rail through Uzbekistan, the goods are delivered to the southern capital of Kyrgyzstan, bypassing Kazakhstan. In the context of a pandemic, constantly emerging problems with crossing the border of a neighboring state - Kazakhstan, which our entrepreneurs face, the new transport corridor is an alternative route for domestic freight carriers. Previously, we carried out the transportation of goods using exclusively highways. However, when crossing the borders of the commonwealth states associated with COVID-19, entrepreneurs suffered huge losses. The development of multimodal transportation not only removes the risks of cargo detention, but also allows you to increase the volume of supplies.
If the efficient operation of this route is established, it will be beneficial not only to Turkey and Kyrgyzstan, but also to the transit countries. And this, in turn, is an additional opportunity to strengthen economic ties between Central Asia and the Caucasus. In the future, this will lead to diversification of the transport and economic potential of the Caucasus and Central Asia, in order to reduce dependence on the northern route or on China. The more such alternative paths there are, the more, I think, will be beneficial to all countries. The prospects for this route are good and profitable.
Today humanity is on the verge of forming a new world order. The confrontation between the United States, Russia and China will intensify. Central Asia and the Caucasus are precisely the regions where, unfortunately, this struggle will unfold. Because the global interests of these large countries are concentrated in Central Asia, in the Caucasus. For China, this is an exit to Europe through the "One Belt - One Road" project. For the countries of Central Asia, this is a matter of economic survival and expediency.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught Kyrgyzstan one simple thing - we must proceed from national interests, diversify and not be dependent on any neighboring country, but have diversified sources. Of course, through this route, Kyrgyzstan can maintain trade relations with China, Uzbekistan, etc. This project is beneficial for Uzbekistan, since Tashkent may well become an economic leader in the Central Asian region. It has a very large population - 34 million people. But Uzbekistan is in a continental blockade, borders on all five Central Asian countries, and has a great export potential. With the coming to power of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, an export-oriented economy was created in the country.
Tashkent needs to sell its goods and services. He has no access to China. The most profitable route that will provide access for Uzbek goods to the Chinese market is Kyrgyzstan. Tashkent gets the opportunity to export its goods to China, and Bishkek gets revenues from the transit of Uzbek goods.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is moving forward as a link in the new Silk Road. This is a transit strategy that China voiced in 2013. The main goal of China is to create as much as possible land routes in order to move through Central Asia and the Caucasus. But we must not forget that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway also has some opponents, because there are countries that at one time tried to block it. I think a lot here certainly depends on the tariff policy. This route is shorter and more profitable. There is also a political moment here. At one time, this railway project was not accepted with enthusiasm by the Georgian Dream party.
From my point of view, the more transit routes there are between the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus, this will help to improve the economic environment between the countries of our regions. When the pandemic is over, globalization will pick up steam. This is good in the sense that there will be fierce competition in the post-coronavirus world. The most important thing is to support the development of alternative routes between the Caucasus and Central Asia after the pandemic.
The autor is a kyrgyz political scientist and international relations expert.
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