China – Europe: Middle Transport Corridor

Jul 30, 2023

As Russia’s war in Ukraine continues and the West intensifies its economic offensive against Russia, much more attention is being paid to transport corridors that do not pass through Russian territory.

Compared to the Northern Corridor, which runs through Russia, Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), also known as the Middle Corridor, is a faster trade route, reducing the distance by 2’000 km. In addition, it has more favorable climatic conditions and reduces travel time by 15 days compared to sea routes.

The Middle Corridor opens up huge opportunities for freight transport in Asia, allowing

– goods to reach the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean through the integration of port connections in Türkiye

– the countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia to benefit from trade between China and Europe worth $600 billion a year

– development and deepening of trans-Caspian cooperation, giving impetus to regional economies, including creation of logistics centers and free trade zones in the ports of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan

The main sea points along the route of the Middle Corridor are the Baku International Sea Trade Port, the ports of Aktau/Kuryk and the port of Turkmenbashi.

Kazakhstan says that it wants substantially increase cargo traffic along the Middle Corridor, with a target of 500’000 containers per year by 2030, according to President Tokarev speech in June.

The route’s challenges, limitations surrounding port capacity and logistical constraints impede the full realization of the Middle Corridor’s potential.
To unlock the full potential of the Middle Corridor and establish it as a viable alternative to the Northern Corridor, two preconditions need to be met: investment and security. According to the estimates by the EBRD, the Middle Corridor requires an investment of $19-21 billion to address the aforementioned challenges.

According to the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, a high priority is placed on developing the potential of the Middle Corridor through collaboration within the G7 initiative – Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment – with a budget of $600 billion until 2027.

📸 PortSEurope