ANALYTICS

Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are anticipated to become involved in the Middle Corridor initiative. Furthermore, Iran may also become involved in the long-term

02.07.24 13:23


Vakhtang Chrideli's article, "MIDDLE CORRIDOR WILL GROW KIRGISIA AND UZBEKISTAN," was published on the spress.ge website aligns with the perspectives of numerous experts who view the construction of a railway from China through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as a pivotal initiative for the advancement of both the Middle Corridor and the economies of Eurasian countries, including Georgia. We present this material in its entirety:

 

A new railway is to be constructed between China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The agreement for its construction was signed in October 2024 and the project is scheduled for completion in 2030. The total investment required for the project is estimated at 4,700,000,000,000 dollars. It is estimated that half of the funds required for the project will be provided by Beijing, with the remaining amount to be mobilised by Bishkek and Tashkent.

 

According to the document, the construction of an international transport corridor will take place along a combined version of the route: "Kashgar - Torugart - Makmal - Jalal-Abad - Andijan". This route will be able to deliver cargo from China to Kyrgyzstan, as well as to the countries of Central Asia and the Middle East, including Turkey, and on to the European Union. Finally, the new railway is designed not only to connect the countries of the region, but also to become an important part of the "Middle Corridor" linking China with Europe through the countries of the South Caucasus - Azerbaijan and Georgia.

 

The China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway will be 454 kilometres long. Of this, 280 kilometres will pass through the territory of Kyrgyzstan. It is planned to build 18 stations, 81 bridges and 41 tunnels with a total length of more than 120 kilometres. A special unloading base will also be built in Kyrgyzstan, where trains will be converted from the "European gauge" (1.435 mm) used in China to the "Russian gauge" (1.520 mm) used in post-Soviet countries. The new railway is expected to carry about 15 million tonnes of freight and 300,000 passengers a year.

 

According to experts, the new railway will significantly change the transport and logistics situation and the overall balance of power in Central Asia. According to Kyrgyz analysts Abbos Bobokhonov and Nargiz Murataliev, the new railway will strengthen China's presence in Central Asia and provide an alternative route to Europe, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

 

 Kyrgyzstan expects the railway to provide a new and stable source of revenue. Its operation is expected to add $200 million a year to the country's national budget. It will also develop the transport system. At present, there are only a few local trains. Finally, the construction of the motorway will create new jobs and economic development in general.

 

Uzbekistan is also expecting major benefits from the project. The railway will help Uzbek producers access the huge Chinese market and contribute to the further development of the economy. In addition, Uzbekistan aims to become a logistics hub in the region, and the construction of the railway will be an important step in this direction.

 

It is worth noting that the Kyrgyz-Uzbek-China railway project was actively discussed in the 1990s. At the time, it was even loudly referred to as the "land Suez Canal". The fact is that thanks to the new line, trains will be able to transport goods between the ports of the Yellow and North Seas and the Persian Gulf.

 

According to experts, China was the main initiator of the idea. The railway from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan will allow Beijing to trade almost directly with Uzbekistan and to connect East and West by a shorter route - the distance from China to Southern Europe will be shortened by 900 kilometres.

 

 It should be noted that with the outbreak of war in the Middle East, the "Middle Corridor" has become more relevant. After all, Red Sea shipping was effectively halted and world trade began to look for new alternative ways of transporting goods. One of them is the multimodal "Middle Corridor", which runs through the territory of China, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

 

As practice shows, it now takes only 8-10 days to deliver cargo containers from China to Georgia. This shows that the Middle Corridor can deliver cargo from Asia to Europe and back much faster than alternative sea routes that bypass the Red Sea and circumnavigate Africa.

 

It is important to note that by the end of 2023, 2,700,000 tonnes of cargo were transported along the "Middle Corridor", which represented an 86% increase compared to the figure for 2022. Currently, 25 companies from 11 countries are defined in the project of the "Trans-Caspian International Transport Route". The route begins in China, traverses Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, and culminates in Europe via the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

 

To supplement this information, it seems probable that the victory of Masoud Pezeshkian in the presidential elections in Iran, who is committed to cooperation with Turkic states and the opening of the Zangezur corridor (or the construction of the Resht-Astara railway), will facilitate the bypassing of the Caspian Sea by railway from the south through the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This will enhance the efficiency and speed of the delivery of goods along the corridor. Additionally, the Middle Corridor could be connected to a North-South Corridor, which would link the Indian Ocean through Iran and European countries to the territory of Azerbaijan and Georgia. For both the Middle Corridor and the North-South Corridor, access to the Black Sea basin through the deep-water port of Anaklia, currently under construction with Chinese investment in Georgia, will be of significant importance.

 

 

Alexandre Zakariadze

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