SPEECH – First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Yagub Eyyubov at the International Conference Ministers of Transport of the Member States of the”Agreement Transport Cooperation (Lapis Lazuli)” on Transit and November 28, 2018 the city of Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan
Dear participants of the Conference, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Azerbaijani delegation, I welcome all participants of today’s Conference and express my gratitude to the Turkmen side for the excellent organization, warm welcome and hospitality. Since ancient times trade routes have served as the ‘blood vessels’ of civilization, contributed to the development of countries and territories, the spread of innovation and intercultural communication. In the conditions of transition toan innovative way of development, transport is considered as one of the most significant factors of economic growth, which improves international trade relations, increases the efficiency of resource use, and develops entrepreneurship.
Azerbaijan, being at the crossroads of transport routes from the East to the West and from the North to the South, is”destined” by virtue of its geographical location to use and expand its transit capabilities, deepen cooperation in this area. We are making great efforts to develop international cooperation in the field of transport,creating new opportunities for the diversification of transit routes.
We initiated and implemented together with our Turkish and Georgian partners an ambitious project – the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line. Today, this railway line, being the shortest route for transporting goods in the East-West direction, has created a new landscape on the world transport map.
Our country consistently stands for the development of international transport corridors, the expansion of transport networks, and the attraction of new partners to cooperation. The Agreement on the Lapis Lazuli route signed in Ashgabat a year ago is a vivid example. This route creates new transit opportunities not only for the participating countries, but also for the entire region. in modern conditions for transport,the main thing is compliance with the requirements for timeliness (“just in time”), volume, quality and safety of transportation. Therefore, infrastructure projects are of particular importance. In May of this year, in the suburb of Baku (in the Alat settlement) and here in Turkmenbashi, new seaports equipped with the most modern equipment were almost simultaneously opened, They became the main hubs of International transport routes and the route Lapis Lazuli.
The complex of the new Baku International Sea Trade Port with an initial cargo handling capacity of 15 million tons per year, thanks to its modern equipment, is able to increase it to 25 million tons per year in a short time. The creation of a free economic zone in the port and the subsequent expansion of the infrastructure, within the framework of the development of the “hub” concept of the Republic of Azerbaijan, will become a solid foundation for the transport and logistics component of the entire region. Thus, by the end of this year, it is planned to start construction of a terminal for transshipment of mineral fertilizers with a capacity of 1.2 million tons per year in the port of Baku. Its implementation will open up new opportunities for the transportation and transit of mineral fertilizers produced in Turkmenistan, the production potential of which has significant prospects. In general, the possibility of exporting fertilizers from Central Asian countries is estimated at about 6.6 million tons. The new ports of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have already signed a long-term agreement on increasing the volume of cargo transshipment and on automated information exchange, which will give impetus to an increase in commodity circulation and transit traffic in the region.
Dear participants of the Conference,
Last week, the official visit of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev to Turkmenistan took place, during which special attention was paid to the transport sector and the functioning of transport corridors as the main engine of economic relations. Of the 21 agreements signed during the visit, a large block of documents (9 agreements) fell to the transport sector. These documents express the will of the presidents of the two countries to further deepen cooperation in this area and are aimed primarily at attracting additional cargo traffic to the routes passing through the territories of our countries.
Among them, the intergovernmental Agreement on the establishment of the Azerbaijani-Turkmen Joint Commission on Transport, Transit and Logistics, as well as the Transport Cooperation Program for 2019-2022 should be noted. The purpose of the established Commission is the operational resolution of emerging problems of transport and transit routes and logistics, as well as the development of documents regulating interaction in the field of road, rail, air and sea transport. I want to emphasize in particular that the adopted agreements reflect the positions of countries on the creation of preferential regimes for the passage of goods, including from third countries.They open wide horizons for the full use of the potential and capacities of existing infrastructures on both sides of the Caspian Sea, which, complementing each other, will create a single system and serve as the basis for transit routes. In general, the created legal base will provide real opportunities for efficient use of the geographical location of our countries at the crossroads of Europe and Asia on the ancient “Great Silk Road”, and also increase the attractiveness of the Lapis Lazuli route using the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars international line and West, including multimodal freight. Along with the work done to us, the countries participating in the Lapis Lazuli route have much to do together. This is the launch of a test team for this route in early December of this year, which will help determine which issues should focus our attention. To use this route successfully, in our opinion, additional study of a number of issues is necessary:
l. Coordination of competitive transit tariffs for additional attraction of cargo, including container transportation from the new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars line, the ports of Poti and Batumi, as well as through.
2. Solving financial obligations between logistics and transport companies, including the coordination of tariffs for port services.
3. The resumption of the practice of applying discounts on the transport of certain types of goods and improving the efficiency of decision-making at preferential rates.
4. Strengthening the technical safety of transportation (if necessary, conduct dredging in the ports).
5. Creating conditions for storing containers and simplifying clearance of empty return.
6. The earliest possible introduction of visa facilitation for participants in international road transport (for example,Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have already signed an intergovernmental agreement on visa facilitation for participants in international transport).
7. Introduction and integration of the online ticket sales system to improve passenger and road haulage services at the ports of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
8. The application between the customs authorities and the ports of the system of prior notification of the transported goods(which will allow to transform this route into an effective digital corridor connecting Europe and Asia).
Dear friends and colleagues,
At the end of my speech, I confirm that the Republic of Azerbaijan is ready for a partnership on Lapis Lazuli and we will make every effort to fully implement this project. I am confident that, in the spirit of close and open cooperation, we will achieve serious success. /// nCa,13 December 2018
To be continued . . .