Turkmenistan and the countries of the region have reached an agreement on increasing transit traffic
Tehran hosted the first ministerial summit on transit cooperation between Iran and five Central Asian countries – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the leadership of the transport sector of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran itself. On October 8, a preliminary meeting of the responsible persons of each of the parties was held, at which a joint document on regional transport convergence was agreed.
On Sunday, October 9, the main negotiations were held between high-ranking representatives of these countries, which ended with the signing of a joint statement.
One of the goals of the summit is to increase the transit of up to 20 million tons of cargo between these countries. This is part of the agreement on the activation of multimodal transit east of the Caspian Sea, which was discussed at the summit. Turkmenistan was represented at the ministerial by a delegation headed by Batyr Annayev, Deputy Director General of the Agency for Transport and Communications under the Cabinet of Ministers of the country.
In his speech at the forum, he focused on the logistics capabilities of Turkmenistan, telling about the renewal of the technical park of the transport industry, as well as its administrative and legal framework.
In particular, it was noted that Turkmenistan makes a significant contribution to increasing the volume of transit cargo transportation in the North-South and East-West directions. So, the country has exits: in the east – to South Asia (to countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan), in the south – through Iran to the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean and the Middle East (Oman, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia) and further to the African continent, as well as through Iran to Turkey.
Turkmenistan is connected with Iran by several railways and highways, which, in turn, provide access to third countries. Turkmenistan has two railway lines with Afghanistan Kerki-Imamnazar-Akina-Andkhoy and Serkhetabad-Turgundi. There are also highways through which Turkmenistan has access to Afghanistan and further to Pakistan.
In the Caspian Sea, there are communications from the international seaport of Turkmenbashi to the Russian ports of Olya, Makhachkala, Astrakhan, Kazakhstan – Aktau and Kuryk, Azerbaijan – Baku and Alat, as well as Iranian Amirabad and Anzali.
As for infrastructural development, new roads and railways have been built and modernized in Turkmenistan in recent years, 6 international airports have been built, and another airport in the Balkan region (Jebel) is currently being built in accordance with ICAO standards. The port of Turkmenbashi is also an important hub, the structure of which includes oil loading, ferry, passenger and cargo terminals with a capacity of 25-27 million tons of cargo per year.
The capacity of the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway corridor is about 10 million tons per year – it is a link of the North-South transport corridor, the main advantages of which over other routes is a reduction in the distance and cost of cargo transportation by several times.
Turkmenistan's transit potential will also stimulate the construction of the Ashgabat–Turkmenabat highway, the first segment of which – Ashgabat–Tejen has already been commissioned in October 2021. Construction of a new automobile bridge across the Caspian Garabogaz Bay along the Turkmenbashi–Garabogaz–Kazakhstan border highway has begun.
It is worth noting that in 2018 the Balkan shipbuilding/ship repair plant was put into operation, where it is now planned to build two Ro-Ro ferries for the transportation of railway wagons and one cargo ship.
The administrative and legal regime of the transport sector of Turkmenistan is also being improved. Since October 1, 2022, fees and charges levied on owners of vehicles of foreign states when entering through checkpoints at the borders of Turkmenistan, as well as during transit through the territory of Turkmenistan, have been reduced.
Turkmenistan is also actively working to join the agreements on the TRACECA and North-South international corridors. The country is also interested in applying international experience in the field of digitalization of transport and logistics. In this aspect, the process of accession to the Additional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road concerning the Electronic Consignment Note (E-CMR) has already begun.