The International North-South Transport Corridor layout involves movement of freight from India to Russia and Europe via Azerbaijan. Consequently, the role of Azerbaijan with a geographical presence on the crossroads of international transportation corridors in the movement of freight from India to CIS and Europe is important. Azerbaijan has made the transport sector developments, particularly railways transit via Azerbaijan, one of the major national economic priorities featuring prominently on its National Economic Agenda. Making consistent efforts in this direction, Azerbaijan has invested heavily in the creation of infrastructure to facilitate nonstop freight movement on North-South and South-West International Transport Corridors connecting Asia, CIS and Europe. This article reviews some major physical infrastructure developments in Azerbaijan and their advantage in freight movement from India.

Middle Corridor: Earlier known as Trans Caspian International Transport route, this multimodal transport corridor was formed in the year 2014 to connect Asia to Europe by a partnership between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan, which further expanded to include Ukraine, Romania, Turkey and Poland. The corridor passes via Baku along the new Baku- Tbilisi- Kars rail line. Azerbaijan has played a predominant role in making this corridor a reality with the commissioning of the 864-kilometer-long missing BTK rail link in October 2017 by extending a soft loan of USD 775 million to Georgia, the first-ever international project financed by the government of Azerbaijan after the end of the cold war.

This corridor goes further via Turkey’s newly commissioned 13.5-kilometer-long Marmaray tunnel beneath the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul allowing nonstop travel from Baku to Europe. Recently, a block train carrying 42 FEUs from Xian in China travelled to Prague through this tunnel passing ten countries and covering 11485 kilometers in just 18 days.

Qazvin-Rasht-Astara Rail project: For providing end to end rail connectivity from Iran to Azerbaijan on INSTC, Azerbaijan signed an agreement with Iran in 2016 and completed construction of 10.3 kilometers missing rail link from Astra, Azerbaijan to Astra, Iran with a bridge
over Astrachay River along the border. Azerbaijan has also agreed to loan USD 500 million to Iran to complete the missing stretch of 167-kilometer from Rasht to Astra on the corridor.

The New Port of Baku in Alat: Azerbaijan has completed phase I of port construction in May 2018 achieving handling capacity of 15 million ton of general cargo including 100,000 TEUs per annum with a state of the art ferry terminal capable of ferrying RORO container mounted train (up
to 42 FEUs) without any handling operations in port.

Alat Free Economic Zone: To transform the transportation corridors into developmental corridors the Parliament of Azerbaijan adopted a new law on Alat Free Economic Zone in May 2018, offering 100 percent tax and duty exemption, with opportunities for manufacturing, packaging, labelling and consolidation.

Absheron Logistics Center: Azerbaijan also commissioned a dedicated rail ICD in Baku in August 2018 with single window facilities for customs clearance and door to door delivery service.

ADY Container LLC: The government of Azerbaijan has established a dedicated rail-based multimodal container freight transportation and logistics company, the ADY Container LLC to ensure speedier movement of containers on international transport corridors. This government company provides secure services in government-to-government partnerships with other railway subsidiaries in the Eurasian region. It combines rail transport with other modes ensuring first and last-mile connectivity. The company has grown internationally with presence in Austria, Georgia, Turkey, Iran and China and as a policy sets up its presence in countries of major trade partners to provide need-based customized transport and logistics solutions. The company has created its own fleet of containers to meet the needs of its overseas customers and can move goods internationally
across any location from Asia to CIS region and Europe.

The company has grown internationally with presence in Austria, Georgia, Turkey, Iran and China and as a policy sets up its presence in countries of major trade partners to provide need-based customized transport and logistics solutions. The company has created its own fleet of containers to meet the needs of its overseas customers and can move goods internationally across any location from Asia to CIS region and Europe.

With these developments in Azerbaijan, nonstop movement of containers by railways from Baku via Caspian Sea to eastern CIS region and via Baku Tbilisi Kars up to Europe has become a reality.

Even if the cargo is moved via Black sea to Georgian ports and from there to eastern CIS countries, with above physical infrastructure development by Azerbaijan, especially rail corridors and port phase I, logistics service providers can move cargo by rail straight from Georgian Port to Port of Alat in Baku and from there nonstop in the RORO ferries via Caspian Sea to eastern side avoiding time-consuming road movement.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are purely that of the author and are neither of the Government of India nor of any institution of the Indian government and shall not be so construed.