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First Container Train from China to Port of Baku to Transform Europe-Asia Trade

The first container block train from China arrived at the Port of Baku in Azerbaijan. A welcoming ceremony at the new Ferry Terminal was attended by senior Azerbaijani, Kazakh and Georgian officials, as well as by representatives of their national ports, railways and shipping lines, and members of the diplomatic corps.

The first train from Northwest China to Azerbaijan resulted from a joint effort by the Coordination Committee on the development of Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR). The Committee is initiated by the Kazakhstan Railways and comprised of ports, railways, shipping and logistics companies of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Turkey and China.

The train, carrying 82 twenty-foot containers, departed Shihezi city in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on July 28, travelling more than 4,000 km before reaching the Caspian port of Aktau in Kazakhstan. From there, the train was transported by rail ferry to the new Port of Baku in Alyat, 70 km south of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku.

The Government of Azerbaijan is developing a new state-of-the-art port complex near Alyat that includes logistics zones, a secured TIR park site, common-use oil supply-base facilities, and customs bonded areas. The new port covers a total area of 400 hectares. This development is a part of a larger strategy of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev to strengthen the country's non-oil economy and diversify it from hydrocarbons. Located at the strategic crossroads of Europe and Asia and nearby sizeable markets such as China, Turkey, Iran and Russia, the Port of Baku is poised to become the leading logistics and trade hub of Eurasia.

Being active players in the ancient Silk Road commerce, the landlocked countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia aim to revive and boost the once active land-based trade between China and Europe. The upcoming completion of the Baku - Tbilisi - Kars railway project linking rail networks of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey with the European Union offers new opportunities to transport cargo from China and the Far East over a shorter, faster land route. The current maritime route from East China to Europe is 30-35 days. The Coordination Committee members aim to shorten door-to-door delivery of China's goods to Europe to under 14 days.

Source: Port of Baku

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