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China, Kazakhstan Expand Secure Rail Connections To Europe

China Railways and the Kazakhstan equivalent, the Kazakh Temir Zholy have had their first meeting to coordinate transport since the outbreak of Covid-19. Taking place in Beijing last week, an upward trend in cargo transport between the two countries was noted, reaching a record high of over 23 million tons in 2022, 15% more than the previous year.

Discussions involved the current state of and prospects for cooperation on development of international transport corridors through Kazakhstan. Special attention was placed on exports from China to other markets.

The meeting also focused on the modernization of Dostyk-Maiynty railway section, being a port of entry (by highway and railroad) to and from China. This rail section serves as an important link in the Eurasian Land Bridge, and is situated in the Dzungarian Gate, a historically significant mountain pass and is across the border from Alashankou in China’s Xinjiang Province.

Discussions also featured the planned construction of a third railway border crossing on the Bakhty- Tacheng section, further north and closer to the Mongolian border.

Other important meetings have also recently taken place concerning rail transit to Europe, during which a memorandum was signed between Kazpost (an authorised Kazakh operator) WEA-Transport GmbH (from Germany, an authorised operator of the European Union) and Huapengfei Company of China (authorised operator in the PRC). This is designed to carry out cross-border trade in the Eurasian space and organise an international logistics corridor for e-commerce.

This is the first memorandum of trilateral cooperation between the authorised economic operators of Kazakhstan, China and the EU for mutually beneficial foreign economic activity. The memorandum was signed in order to develop an international logistics platform and share a secure supply chain of goods. The agreement opens up the opportunity to carry out electronic commerce on transport flows from China to the EU countries through Kazakhstan, it is also focused on promoting and supporting cross-border trade in the Eurasian space, in particular, such projects as the Belt & Road Initiative, and the Western Europe – Western China routes.

This contained proposals as concerns customs procedure and administration, as when using special customs simplifications, the time and financial costs of customs declaration of goods are minimized, the logistics chain is optimised, and downtime is reduced.

Asel Zhanasova, Chairman of the Board of Kazpost, said that “The status of the Authorised Economic Operator of Kazakhstan makes it possible to use the simplification of customs clearance and inspection. We expect that the signing of the memorandum and cooperation with such large companies will allow us to play a key role in the field of cargo transportation and transit through Kazakhstan.”

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s efforts to promote the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) enabled the country to halve the cargo transit time from 12 to 6 days, according to Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov, who made the statement on March 2 at a transport meeting in Almaty. That six day timeframe is expected to be reduced to five days by the end of 2023.

He also said that thanks to the work conducted by the TITR participating countries to eliminate bottlenecks on the route and introduce tariffs and other measures, the delivery time of goods from China to the Black Sea ports in Georgia has decreased from 38-53 to 19-23 days. By the end of 2023, that is expected to be shortened to 14-18 days.

The Kazakh government have also discussed measures to modernize the country’s railway infrastructure, upgrade the rolling stock fleet, and expand the merchant fleet and the capacities of the Aktau and Kuryk seaports in Western Kazakhstan on the Caspian Sea. Ten oil barges, eight ferries, six tankers, and a container ship, all of them procured by Kazakhstan, are expected to start operating in the Caspian Sea by 2030.

Smailov also urged the acceleration of the approval procedures of an agreement between Kazakhstan and China on the TITR development, which is to simplify customs procedures and approve guaranteed traffic volumes on the route.

Source : Silk Road Briefing