On 15 March 2023, a multilateral meeting on the project of simplifying the transit customs procedure on the principle of “one window” within the framework of the Trans-Caspian International Corridor East-West (Middle Corridor) was held in Baku, the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan reports.
Heads and officials of the customs services of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Kunio Mikuria, Deputy Secretary General of the Organization of Turkic States Mirvohid Azimov, representatives of UNECE, IRU and other international organizations took part in the meeting.
Welcoming the participants of the event, the Chairman of the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan Shahin Bagirov spoke about the importance of increasing the attractiveness of the Middle Corridor and highly appreciated the efforts of the countries of the region in the direction of simplifying customs transit procedures and stressed that in the near future there will be new opportunities for further simplification of transit operations and their implementation on a digital basis. The Secretary General of the World Customs Organization, Kunio Mikuria, said that the project is important in terms of enhancing regional development and prosperity, strengthening cooperation and ensuring the continuity of the trade and supply chain.
According to Asset Asavbayev, Secretary General of the Permanent Secretariat of the TRACECA Intergovernmental Commission and Emil Medjidov, Adviser to the Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan, measures to optimize transit customs procedures are important in terms of accelerating international trade, facilitating border crossing processes, as well as attracting investment and expanding economic opportunities for the countries of the region.
The presentation of the Trans-Caspian Transit Portal developed by experts of the Customs Service of Azerbaijan took place at the meeting.
This application will allow moving goods and vehicles along the corridor on the basis of a single declaration, exchanging information in electronic form, as well as using a previously submitted transit customs declaration as a transit document.
As a result of the meeting, the “Action Plan for the development and implementation of a simplified transit procedure on the principle of “one window” along the Trans-Caspian International Middle Corridor East-West” was approved. The Trans-Caspian East-West-Middle Corridor, referred as the “Middle Corridor”, begins in Turkey and passes through the Caucasus region – Georgia, Azerbaijan, crosses the Caspian Sea, traverses Central Asia and reaches China. It passes by rail and road, respectively, through Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea and reaches China via the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan route. On this route, the ports of Baku/Alat (in Azerbaijan), Aktau/Kuryk (in Kazakhstan) and Turkmenbashi (in Turkmenistan) are the main points of multimodal transportation on the Caspian Transit Corridor.
According to Turkish Foreign Ministry, If the Middle Corridor is used effectively, important economic opportunities will arise for the Central Asian countries to benefit from the trade between China and Europe, estimated to be worth 600 billion USD annually. In particular, establishment of logistical centers and free trade zones at the ports of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan will facilitate the development and deepening of Trans-Caspian cooperation.
In 2022, the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route posted a record growth of cargo transportation with 1.5 million tons of cargo were transported along the TITR route, which is 2.5 times higher compared to 2021. The volume of container traffic amounted to 33 thousand twenty-foot equivalent containers (TEU), which is 33% more than in 2021.