Uzbekistan and the port of Anaklia will be the shortest routes along the Middle Corridor

12.06.24 12:00

Almost simultaneously, the launch of two major projects in the Middle Corridor linking China and East Asian countries with Europe and the Atlantic basin was announced.


The first of these had significant public resonance in Georgia, as it had already been definitively announced that the deep-water port of Anaklia would be built by a Sino-Singaporean consortium. This consortium includes China Communications Construction Company Limited, the largest Chinese company involved in construction activities in almost all sectors of the economy (roads, ports, hotels, energy, metallurgy, transport, logistics, etc.), and China Harbour Investment LTD, a Chinese state-owned company registered in Singapore, which invests in ports, logistics, and infrastructure projects. One of the subcontractors of the consortium, as well as the largest Chinese company, China Road and Bridge Corporation, has been actively involved in the implementation of major infrastructure projects in Georgia since 2018.


Along with the construction of the Anaklia deep-water port, another project is being launched, this time in Central Asia, which has recently returned to its historical name of Turkestan in Turkish news sources. The 'heart' of Turkestan was also historically Uzbekistan, the most populous and dynamically developing country in the region.


A key factor in Uzbekistan's further development could be the project to build a railway from China to Uzbekistan, which, together with existing routes through Turkmenistan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, will connect China to the Black Sea by the shortest route. As a result, an agreement on the construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway was recently signed in Beijing. This project, which was conceived several decades ago, has finally come to fruition.


The new route from China to Europe will become even more convenient and in demand once the Resht-Astara railway in Iran is completed or the railway link along the Zangezur corridor is opened. In this case, the shortest rail route from China to the Georgian deep-water port of Anaklia will pass through Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Azerbaijan. Through Uzbekistan, China will have the'shortest exit' to the Black Sea and through it to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. The key role in this 'shortest exit' will be played by the port of Anaklia in Georgia.


The recently inaugurated railway line connecting China and Uzbekistan via the shortest route will run along the Kashgar-Torugart-Makmal-Jalalabad-Andijan route. Its total length is approximately 450 kilometres. According to forecasts, the annual volume of freight traffic on this railway will reach approximately 15 million metric tons. The time of delivery of goods to final consumers is expected to be reduced by seven days. Nevertheless, the cost of the project and the specific terms of its implementation have not yet been disclosed.


In Uzbekistan, the main line is planned to connect with the existing track and thus reach the railways of Turkmenistan, Iran, and Turkey. In general, the new transport route will be one of the most convenient for the delivery of cargoes from China to Europe and the Middle East. It is shorter than alternative routes by at least 900 kilometres.


Previously, it was assumed that Russia would object to and prevent the construction of a railway through Uzbekistan as a competitor to routes through the Russian Federation. However, the geopolitical situation is changing. There has been an improvement in Russia's relations with Georgia and a new level of cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan, along with continued friendly relations between Russia and China.  In China, some experts were even surprised by Russia's positive reaction to the railway project from China to Uzbekistan. While this may appear surprising, it is, in fact, not. Moscow has finally begun to understand that comprehensive cooperation with other countries within the framework of Greater Eurasia is much more beneficial than confrontation and the organisation of separatist conflicts ‘blocking’ transit routes.


Alexandre Zakariadze

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