CAREC Institute held the Sixth Chai Dialogue on Middle Corridor Development

6 Dec 2023

On December 6, the CAREC Institute, in collaboration with the CAREC Secretariat and the Asian Development Bank, held its 6th CAREC Chai webinar on “Enhancing the Middle Transport Corridor: Unlocking Opportunities in the Heart of Eurasia.” The purpose of this event was to facilitate a comprehensive dialogue on unlocking the potential of the Middle Corridor and enhancing its efficiency, aligned with the objectives of the CAREC Strategy 2030.

Director of the CAREC Institute, Mr. Kabir Jurazoda welcomed the participants of the Chai webinar and noted the important role of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), known as the “Middle Corridor”, in improving the connectivity of the CAREC region. The Middle Corridor offers significant opportunities by providing a shorter route, less impacted by geopolitical disruptions for transporting goods between China, Central Asia, the South Caucasus, and Europe. “However, challenges such as high costs, limited port capacity, regulatory hurdles, competition with other routes and geopolitical uncertainties pose obstacles to its further development,” said Mr. Kabir Jurazoda. “Success depends on aligning political relations, regional infrastructure, and technological advancements.”

Keynote presentations were provided by CAREC Institute staff. Senior Research Specialist Dr. Ghulam Samad spoke about the role of the Middle Corridor in strengthening connectivity in Eurasia. He presented the findings of the 2022 Corridor Performance Measurement and Monitoring (CPMM) draft report on developments along the TTIR. The CPMM data shows that the Caspian crossings were more costly than overland shipments. In terms of time, Caspian crossings showed that the driving was faster compared to overland for both directions. However, the stops en-route resulted in significant delays due to the shipment waiting in the port for the vessel to arrive or for the shipment to be cleared for the onward journey. Mr. Rovshan Mahmudov, Senior Capacity Building Specialist, presented a SWOT analysis of the development of the Middle Transport Corridor and policy recommendations for national governments, as well as regional and international stakeholders. He noted the importance of investing in hard and soft infrastructure to ensure smoother and more efficient transport connectivity along the corridor, implementing digitalization initiatives at border crossings, harmonizing the national regulations, introducing a robust risk management strategy, and implementing training and education programs to address the issue shortage of skilled labor and create a skilled workforce to effectively operate the corridor.

During the open dialogue, leading economists and transport experts representing various international organizations – Dr. Roman Mogilevskii, Senior Economist at the ADB, Professor Richard Pomfret from the University of Adelaide, Mr. Oleg Samukhin, Senior Transport Specialist at the ADB, Dr. Dina Azhgaliyeva, Senior Research Fellow at the ADBI, Mr. Ayhan Satiji, Head of Turkic World Research Center, Ms. Leila Batyrbekova, Transport Expert from Kazakhstan, and Ms. Tatiana Rey-Bellet, Director on TIR and Transit at the International Road Transport Union – provided feedback on research findings presented by the CAREC Institute and shared their thoughts on the development of the Middle Corridor. Experts spoke about current issues and trends affecting cargo transportation along the corridor, new initiatives from their organizations that promote the use of the corridor and, therefore, improve connectivity in the CAREC region. All experts noted the importance of trade facilitation initiatives in the areas of digitalization, customs efficiency, use of TIR and CMR, simplification of procedures for receiving transit permits and visas for drivers, and development of soft infrastructure along the corridor. Through regional cooperation, the Middle Corridor can be optimized to realize its full potential as an economic corridor for the shared prosperity of CAREC countries.

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