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June 2017, No. 84


Trade & Business

 

Azerbaijan Launches Iran Rail Link


The Azeri president hailed Iranian firms for making investments in Azerbaijan, noting that the completion of the transportation corridor could deliver considerable benefits for the regional nations.


Azerbaijan officially launched a rail link with Iran (March 5) by sending a train across the border to Iran’s northern city of Astara thus taking an ambitious multimodal transport project that connects northern Europe to India closer to reality.

The train arrived in Iran simultaneous with a visit to the Islamic Republic by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev where he discussed the implementation of the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.  

Aliyev told reporters after meeting Rouhani that the NSTC was an important project, stressing that it could have positive effects on the economies of its host countries. 

He indicated Baku’s determination to materialize the project when he said his country would invest in the construction of a railway from Iran’s northern city of Rasht to Astara. 

Aliyev emphasized that a basic agreement that was signed between the main railway companies of Iran and Azerbaijan during his March 5 meeting with Rouhani was in the same connection and could help facilitate the expansion of economic relations between the two countries.

The NSTC is a multi-modal route to link India and the Middle East to the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe.

The ship, road and rail routes connect India’s Mumbai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and further to Baku in Azerbaijan as well as Astrakhan, Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia before stretching to northern Europe and Scandinavia.

In addition to Iran, India and Russia, countries that are on board to integrate into the transit network include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Turkey, Tajikistan, Oman, Syria and Bulgaria. 

Call for Enhanced Iran-Azeri Trade

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the level of economic cooperation between Iran and Azerbaijan is low in view of the two sides’ capacities, calling for a tenfold rise in bilateral trade.    

Ayatollah Khamenei made the statement in a meeting with Aliyev in Tehran (March 5).

The top Azeri official said mutual ties are “at an excellent level” and hostile efforts to undermine the relationship will get nowhere.

In a joint news conference with his Azeri counterpart earlier in the day, President Rouhani said the considerable growth in annual trade between Tehran and its northwestern neighbor shows the two countries are on the right path of developing wide-ranging cooperation.

Bilateral trade grew by 70% in 2016 to $500 million, following the implementation of several cooperation agreements signed in recent years.

Hailing “friendly, brotherly and strategic” relations, Rouhani said bilateral political, economic and cultural cooperation has grown significantly in the past three years and that the two countries should keep up efforts on this path.

Rouhani urged the two countries to work to implement their part in developing the International North-South Transportation Corridor, a route stretching from the Indian Ocean to Russia, China, Central Asia and East Europe.

Voicing Iran’s readiness to swap oil and oil products with Azerbaijan, he reiterated that the two Muslim countries hold similar views on regional issues.

Aliyev said his government intends to establish “deep and long-lasting” relations with the Islamic Republic, adding that their friendship is in the interest of the two nations and the region.

The Azeri president hailed Iranian firms for making investments in Azerbaijan, noting that the completion of the transportation corridor could deliver considerable benefits for the regional nations.

Before the presser and after a meeting between high-ranking delegations of the two countries, the two sides’ officials signed two memorandums of understanding on fighting money laundering and expanding railroad links.

Aliyev’s visit to Tehran was the third in the past three years. He last visited Iran in February 2016 when the two sides signed 11 memorandums of understanding and agreements to promote mutual cooperation in a wide range of fields.

 

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  June 2017
No. 84