Kazakhstan to boost cargo transshipment to Azerbaijan

By: Sara Rajabova

Kazakh Ambassador to Azerbaijan has said Kazakhstan plans to increase transportation of various cargoes across the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan.

“Under the new economic policy, announced in Kazakh president’s recent message to the people, the Kazakh government is planning to build three new terminals at the Kazakh port of Kuryk. Its communication with Baku will be maintained via these terminals,” Amangeldy Zhumabayev said on December 17, Trend Agency reported.

Zhumabayev said in general, Kazakhstan intends to be a transit country through which the cargos will go from east to west and from north to south.

“Today, the trade turnover between China and Europe stands at $600 billion. Currently, these goods are being delivered by sea. If the transit countries, including Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan can cover at least 10 percent of this amount, they will gain tremendous profits,” Zhumabayev added.

He said that right now, a number of new motorways and railways are being built in the country, adding that in particular, the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway has been recently put into operation.

Among other goods, Kazakhstan plans to increase its oil transportation through Azerbaijan.

Kazakhstan transported around 3.5 million metric tons of oil through Azerbaijan as of 2013. The major part of the oil was transported though railway. Nevertheless, once the development of Kashagan field is resumed, the transportation of Kazakh oil through Azerbaijan will increase.

Zhumabayev recalled that Kazakhstan plans to produce commercial oil at Kashagan roughly in mid-2016. He said Kazakhstan has its own terminal in the port of Batumi and the country needs to transport oil through Azerbaijan in order to load this terminal.

In the future, the country plans to construct a large terminal in Kazakhstan’s Kuryk port for transportation of oil from Kashagan field.

The ambassador further said Azerbaijan has also plans to become a transit country, as currently, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway and a new large Alat port near Baku are under construction.

Zhumabayev said Kazakhstan’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union which will start functioning from January 1, 2015, will by no means affect Kazakhstan’s trade relations with the countries which are not included in this integration association, as well as Azerbaijan.

“The EAU gives us great economic benefits. But this does not mean that we will forget about our own foreign policy. On the contrary, the EAU opens new prospects for relations with other countries,” Zhumabayev said.

He went on to say that in early 2015, foreign manufacturers bringing their goods to Kazakhstan or foreign investors producing goods in Kazakhstan will have a duty-free access to the markets of Russia and Belarus.

“The EAU establishment does not mean that its member-states will close the borders for other countries. These third countries will be able to import their goods at the same duties, which are available now. The competition will be tight but new opportunities will appear,” Zhumabayev said.

The diplomat also noted that the trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan has slightly decreased this year.

The turnover amounted to $400 million in 2013. But this amount will not exceed this year. Azerbaijan mainly exports fruits and vegetables to Kazakhstan. As Russia has restricted import of goods from Europe, more fruits and vegetables are supplied to Russia from Azerbaijan rather than Kazakhstan. There are unregistered goods supplied from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan through Russia.

Zhumabayev also said a lot of joint ventures have been launched by Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in recent years and many Azerbaijani companies are active in Kazakhstan. For example, the Azerbaijani company Akkord is involved in the construction of roads in Kazakhstan, according to the ambassador.

Negotiations and meetings at different levels take place between the two countries on a regular basis, Zhumabayev said. He went on to add that every year, the heads of states exchange visits. “Kazakhstan’s president should make the next visit in return. However, the date of the visit has not yet been agreed upon,” the ambassador added.

Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan support each other at the international level, according to Zhumabayev, noting that in particular, Kazakhstan supports Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

Zhumabayev expressed gratitude to Azerbaijan for the support of Kazakhstan’s candidacy to host the Expo exhibition, as well as its intention to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. He expressed confidence that Kazakhstan will also support Azerbaijan in holding the European games in 2015.