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Innovative 'middle corridor' to foster cooperation, shorten transits.

REPRESENTATIVES of Caspian and Black Sea ports have joined various units of the Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) conglomerate to fashion a new route for cargo from China to the west.

What is being promoted as the "Middle Corridor" involves rail freighting goods from China to Khorgos in Kazakhstan, sorting them, then sending them to Port Kuryk on the Caspian Sea, then across to Azerbaijan's capital of Baku by ship, then by rail to the Georgian Black Sea port of Anaklia and then by ship to wherever the cargo wants to go. 

It is thought Turkey and Romania will be principal destinations. Already, Caspian Sea oil moves along this route by pipeline overland.

The meeting drew together port authorities and officials from the KTZ conglomerate, namely the dry port KTZE-Khorgos Gateway, its rail operator, "NC "KTZ", the JSC trucking and passenger unit and its multimodal operator "KTZ Express".

The company and the Georgian port authority met under the auspices of their group, the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR).

During negotiations on future cooperation, experiences were exchanged on the current and future use of the "Middle Corridor". 

Anaklia Development Consortium CEO Levan Akhvlediani explained the opportunities available for trade from the Georgia's Port of Anaklia. It was decided to make Port Kuryk LLP a full member of the TITR, it having made it an associate member in November.

Kazakhstan is engaged in the construction of a new Kuryk port on the Caspian shore, which will be similar to Azerbaijan's Baku International Sea Trade Port.

Memoranda of understanding were signed between Port Kuryk LLP and the Port of Anaklia, between the KTZ units and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Kazakhstan who also attended. 

The one millionth tonne of cargo left Kuryk port October 19 for the Azerbaijani port of Baku. Kuryk port, launched in December, is principally an oil port, but is in its second phase of construction.

"At present, Kazakh grain, coal, oil products, fertilisers and chemicals, as well as transit cargo coming from China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, are exported via the Kuryk ferry complex," reported the Astana Times. 

"From the beginning of operation to the present day, the volume of cargo has reached one million tonnes," said port manager Myrzabek Saktaganov.

He said the future operation of two railway berths will allow Kuryk to service five ferries a day and handle four million tonnes of cargo a year. The addition of an automobile ferry berth will expand annual transshipment volume to seven million tonnes.

Said Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies researcher Anna Alshanskaya: "Port Kuryk is an important link of the Trans-Caspian International Transport route, passing through China, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey."

She saw Kazakhstan emerging one day as an important transport and logistics hub between Europe and Asia, which would increase the export of Kazakh manufactures to European countries via Caspian ports.
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