Conference on International North South Transport Corridor Hold in Moscow

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Conference on International North South Transport Corridor Hold in Moscow 14.12.2016 17:05

December 7, 2016 in the Hall "Tchaikovsky» Four Seasons Hotel (Moscow) held a conference on the international transport corridor "North-South". The Embassy of India in Russia organized it. During the opening ceremony of the conference were present: the Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Alexei Tsydenov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ambassador to Russia Polad Bulbuloglu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of India in the Russian Federation Pankaj Saran and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Russian Federation Mehdi Sanai.

As part of the conference a technical meeting was held moderated by Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS countries, Vladimir Evseev. During a technical meeting of the participants of the conference the features of logistics at the delivery of goods on the international transport corridor "North-South" were discussed and also the possibility of alternative routes for transportation of goods in Russia from India. It was also noted that more active involvement of India in this project was due to the implementation of China's "One Belt One Road" initiative.

During the business session, which was conducted by the Chairman of the Export Development Agency of Agricultural and Food, Government of India DK Sigh, the speeches were made by the Deputy Minister of Transport of the Government of the Astrakhan region, Deputy General Director of JSC "GLONASS", Permanent Representative of the Republic of Dagestan of the President of the Russian Federation and CEO of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations. In their reports, they presented features of the implementation of the International transport corridor "North-South" at the regional level, as well as solutions and services on the basis of the State Automated Information System "ERA-GLONASS".

Holding of this conference aroused a great interest on the part of the foreign diplomatic corps, Russian and foreign companies, the scientific community and the media.

The international transport corridor (ITC) "North-South" is a multi-modal route of transportation of passengers and goods, with a total length from St. Petersburg to the port of Mumbai (Bombay), 7200 km. It was designed to attract transit cargo from India, Iran and other Persian Gulf countries on the territory of Russia (through the Caspian Sea), and later to the Northern and Western Europe.

According to the Transport Strategy of the Russian Federation until 2030, to the Strategy of development of railway transport of the Russian Federation until 2030 and the Federal Target Program "Development of Transport System of Russia (2010-2015)" the creation of the ITC is one of the priorities of our country's transport policy. The legal basis for this project is an inter-governmental agreement on international transport corridor "North-South", signed by Russia, India and Iran in St. Petersburg September 12, 2000 during the Second International Euro-Asian Conference on Transport. Depositary of the Agreement is Iran. By May 2002, the Agreement has been ratified by all the parties and it entered into force.

The components of ITC "North-South" became international transport corridors №9 (Finland - Saint - Petersburg - Moscow with branches to Astrakhan and Novorossiysk) and №2 (Berlin - Warsaw - Minsk - Moscow - Nizhny Novgorod - Yekaterinburg), the transport infrastructure of the Volga and Don, including Volga-Baltic and Volga-Don Canal, the ports of the Astrakhan region (Astrakhan, Olya) and Dagestan (Makhachkala).

Statute of the Coordinating Council of ITC "North - South" was approved in May 2002 in St. Petersburg at a meeting of transport ministers of the participating countries. The Council is the governing body of ITC, in which the presidency of the member countries in order of rotation for a period of one year. Within the framework of the Coordinating Council two expert groups operate: "Commercial and operational issues" and "Documentation, customs procedures and related issues".

In order to implement the Agreement by the relevant action plan has been prepared and an interdepartmental working group for its implementation was set up.

ITC project "North-South" has caused great interest among the countries - potential participants of the new transport route. The Agreement was joined by Belarus, Kazakhstan, Oman, Tajikistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Syria, Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Ukraine. The participation of the latter state in its implementation is now, apparently, in question.

Formation of ITC "North - South" is regarded by Russia as an important transit areas between the countries of North-West Europe, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, Central, South and Southeast Asia, as well as the possibility of further development of Euro-Asian transport deliveries by a shorter and more economical route .

The main advantages of ITC "North - South" in comparison with the other routes and, in particular, before the sea route through the Suez Canal is to reduce in two or more times the transport distance. The cost of container transportation from Germany and Finland to India will be significantly less than the cost of transportation by sea route.

A significant part of the corridor "North - South" is held by means of the Russian Railways, on which 33 - 53% of the total length of the corridor land fall, depending on the route. The core area of the Russian side in the framework of ITC is: the route Buslovskaja - St. Petersburg - Moscow - Ryazan - Kochetovka - Rtishchevo - Saratov - Volgograd - Astrakhan, length of 2513 km.

At this stage, the ITC "North-South" works mainly in the direction from south to north for the carriage of goods from India to Russia.

For the maximum realization of the potential capabilities of the ITC "North-South" the task to the Russian side is the upgrading of the Astrakhan transport hub, further development of the port facilities which is possible due to the continuation of the construction of the port of Olya, able to reach design capacity to process up to 8 million tons of dry cargo per year.

A new intermodal route is being formed, which organizes the delivery of container cargo through Russia to Iran. Together with partners in Azerbaijan and Iran the issue is addressed concerning the establishment of direct communication by land on the western coast of the Caspian Sea with the construction of a new railway line Qazvin - Astara (Iran) - Astara (Azerbaijan). An agreement was signed between Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan on the establishment of a consortium for the construction of this line, in the framework of which the establishment of joint ventures, project sharing construction and development on this basis of the business - plan is provided. The estimated capacity of the railway will reach 10 million tons in the first phase and in the future it will be increased up to 15 million tons per year.

An alternative rail project as part of ITC "North-South" seems the route along the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea (Gorgan (Iran) - Etrek - Bereket (Turkmenistan) - Uzen (Kazakhstan)), the agreement on which was signed during the meeting of heads of Caspian states Tehran in October 2007. The new railway line cuts the eastern route of 600 km. The length of the road is 677 km, including in Kazakhstan - 137 km, Turkmenistan - 470 km, Iran - 70 km. In November 2011, the construction of the Kazakh section was completed.

Questions of construction of the corridor were discussed in 2012 in Moscow at the talks Russian Railways managers, Iran and Azerbaijan. According to the results signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding under which the parties agreed on the procedure for carrying out the necessary feasibility studies, as well as financial and legal due diligence of the project of construction of the railway line Qazvin - Rasht - Astara (Iran) - Astara (Azerbaijan).

5 - th meeting of the Coordination Council of ITC "North-South" was held in Baku on 24-25 June 2013. The meeting was attended by representatives of Azerbaijan, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, Syria, and Turkey.

Coordinating Council discussed several issues relating to the development of ITC "North-South", which resulted in:

- approval of the formation of the Operations Management of the ITC "North-South" in the city of Tehran, a joint venture to provide logistical support carriage on ITC "North-South" through the use of services of "one window" and the formation of a working group on customs matters, whose main task will develop proposals for the simplification of customs procedures;

- agreement on the establishment of an information exchange system relating to ITC "North - South" between member states, coordinated by India.

In 2014, the issues of improving transport infrastructure of the ITC "North - South" were discussed during the second meeting of transport ministers of the Caspian states (Astrakhan, August 8, 2014), the International High-Level Conference on the role of transport and transit corridors in ensuring international cooperation and sustainable development (Ashgabat, September 3-4, 2014), the fourth Caspian Summit (Astrakhan, September 29, 2014).

The Russian side intends to continue active cooperation both within international organizations and at bilateral level, with the aim of ITC "North - South" development, and elaboration of optimal routes, capable of attracting to transport communications of the Russian Federation, additional volumes of transit cargoes in the regular report. From a geopolitical point of view of the actual content of freight traffic corridor will enhance the transit potential in the Caspian region.

Regular 6 - th meeting of the Coordinating Council of ITC "North-South" and the 7 - th meeting of the expert group was held on August 19-21, 2015 in New Delhi (India). During the event the progress of the project and further steps for its realization into practice were outlined.

Under the "Transport week - 2015" (Moscow, November 30 - December 5, 2015) a tripartite meeting of representatives of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran at the level of Deputy Ministers of relevant agencies was held to discuss the prospects for traffic development of the ITC "North - South" with the use of railway infrastructure.

30-31 August 2016 the Indian side offered to organize a tripartite meeting of representatives of the customs authorities of Russia, India and Iran, to complete the preparation of the necessary customs documents. Iran, for its part, has offered to host this meeting in Tehran, and to invite her to the appropriate representatives of Azerbaijan.

September 21, 2016 India under the sea summit in Mumbai met MTC members. There were representatives of the customs bodies of Azerbaijan, India, Iran and Russia to discuss the draft of the relevant documents.