Middle Corridor Significant in Advancing Economic Co-op Between Türkiye, Central Asia – Trade Minister (Exclusive Interview)

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The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR, or Middle Corridor) plays a significant role in advancing economic cooperation between Türkiye and countries of Central Asia, Trade Minister of Türkiye Omer Bolat told Trend in an exclusive interview.

Middle Corridor and transporting goods through Central Asia and Türkiye

Bolat pointed out that increasing the efficiency of the Middle Corridor will allow both Türkiye and other countries in the region to increase their competitiveness in world markets. The minister noted that the current geopolitical challenges facing the world have made it difficult to safely continue commercial and economic activities, especially in the areas of food and energy security.

“In this context, the role and significance of the Middle Corridor has reached its maximum level. Increasing the efficiency of the Middle Corridor, which is an important route that strengthens trade relations with the countries of Central Asia and opens up access for Central Asia to the world,” Omer Bolat said.

According to him, Türkiye regularly holds meetings with countries in the region on bilateral and multilateral platforms to assess the effective use of the Middle Corridor. Particularly important in this context is the issue of increasing the capacity of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway.

“As you know, the Trans-Caspian route is an important alternative for our country in foreign trade transportation. With the commissioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway in 2017, a significant part of the Middle Corridor was opened. Initiatives to develop the Middle Corridor connecting Asia and Europe through the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus and Türkiye have recently gained momentum,” he said.

Bolat noted that recent events in the international arena are contributing to an increase in cargo transportation from China to Europe through the Middle Corridor. The minister pointed out that Türkiye attaches particular importance to the development of the Middle Corridor, since it plays the role of a transit center between East and West and contributes to the development of economic and political relations between Ankara and the countries of Central Asia.

“Türkiye is doing a huge amount of work to develop the Middle Corridor, including through negotiations, signing agreements, building infrastructure, etc. All this work will strengthen Türkiye’s central position in East-West transport and increase freight traffic along this route. It is expected that the prepared projects for the construction of transport roads on new routes will contribute to the opening of the Central Asian countries to the West and the revival of their economies,” the minister said.

According to Omer Bolat, up to 10 million tons of cargo are transported annually along the Middle Corridor, including 200,000 containers to Europe

“If this route is effectively used, then Türkiye, together with the countries of Central Asia, will receive great economic opportunities from transit along the Europe-China route, which currently amounts to $600 billion per year,” Bolat said.

The minister added that the creation of logistics centers and free trade zones, in particular in the ports of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, investing in the development of infrastructure along the route and improving the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line in this context will contribute to development and deepening of Trans-Caspian cooperation.

Supplying Central Asian energy resources to Europe – priority for Türkiye

“Our country’s geostrategic location once again plays a key role in today’s international system, where ensuring a secure energy supply is as important as the availability of energy resources. In this context, our country plays the role of an important storage and transmission center in the global transportation of many energy resources, especially natural gas,” Omer Bolat said.

As the minister noted, Türkiye signs agreements with many countries, especially European ones, to ensure a secure international energy supply.

“In addition, we attach importance to the development of projects aimed at delivering the rich energy resources of friendly and brotherly Central Asian countries to end consumers, especially Europe,” he said.

As Bolat added, the uninterrupted continuation of global production and supply chains will help the world emerge from the current crisis.

Speaking about green energy, the minister noted that Türkiye continues to support green transformation in the field of economy, as in every field, in line with the vision drawn by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and within the scope of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“Within the scope of the ‘Zero Waste’ project, we aim to minimize the level of post-production waste and bring our carbon footprint in production in line with EU standards. We also encourage a transition to sustainable resources in the energy sector, which is one of the main production sources,” the minister said.

As the minister added, many of Türkiye’s companies continue their activities in order to realize the renewable energy potential of the country and are always ready to share their experiences with Central Asian countries.

Türkiye’s trade with Central Asian countries

As the minister noted, Türkiye is ready to share its experience in all fields with Central Asian countries, in particular Kazakhstan, on a win-win basis.

“In the future, stakeholders from both the public and private sectors will continue to contribute to the development of the region by continuing negotiations and projects within the framework of international obligations and regulations,” the minister said.

Speaking about trade with the countries of Central Asia, the minister noted that trade turnover between Türkiye and Central Asian countries amounted to $13.8 billion from January through September 2023. As he noted, total trade turnover with Central Asian countries increased by 18 percent compared to the same period last year.

“Our country exported products worth $5.7 billion to Central Asian countries in 9 months of 2023. During the same period, imports from the mentioned countries reached $8.1 billion,” he said.

As Bolat said, Türkiye exported mainly industrial equipment, clothing and textiles, automobile products, electrical devices and medical devices to Central Asia.

“The main share of Türkiye’s imports from the Central Asian countries came from oil, gas, vegetables and fruits, grain products and non-ferrous metals,” the minister said.

As the minister added, the share of Central Asian countries in Türkiye’s total foreign trade is about 3 percent.

Source: Trend News Agency