Lapis Lazuli corridor

Last updated
The Lapis Lazuli Route connects Afghanistan via the shortest way to the European and Balkan markets via the Caspian and Black Sea ports Lapis Lazuli Route.png
The Lapis Lazuli Route connects Afghanistan via the shortest way to the European and Balkan markets via the Caspian and Black Sea ports

Lapis Lazuli is an international transit route opened in 2018 linking Afghanistan to Turkey via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia. [2] [3]

Contents

The name “Lapis Lazuli” is derived from the historic route that Afghanistan's lapis lazuli and other semiprecious stones were exported along, over 2,000 years ago, to the Caucasus, Russia, the Balkans, Europe, and North Africa along the ancient Silk Road. The initiative will serve to reinforce the Afghan Government's Infrastructure and Connectivity Development, Energy, and Private Sector Development National Priority Programs. [4] The Lapis Lazuli corridor is funded by the Asian Development Bank. Currently, the transit project’s budget is estimated at $2 billion.

History

Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia and Ministers of Azerbaijan and Turkey sign the Lapis Lazuli Route Transport and Transit Agreement in Ashgabat on 15 November 2017 Signing Ceremony of the Lapis Lazuli Route Agreement.jpg
Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia and Ministers of Azerbaijan and Turkey sign the Lapis Lazuli Route Transport and Transit Agreement in Ashgabat on 15 November 2017

The name of the transport corridor comes from the color of mineral lapis lazuli, which was one of the main items of exports from Central Asia to the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa in ancient times. Negotiations over the establishment of this new corridor date back to 2012 and continued for five years due to a number of factors in the region, including insecurity (growing domestic violence), economic instability across Central Asia, and a legacy of poorly developed infrastructure networks in the member countries involved. The Lapis Lazuli Route Transport and Transit Agreement was initiated by then Afghan foreign minister and economic cooperation minister, Wahidullah Waissi. The agreement aims to enhance regional economic cooperation and connectivity between the countries of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, thereby expanding economic and cultural links between Europe and Asia. In doing so, the initiative seeks to improve transport infrastructure and procedures (including for road, rail, and sea), increase exports, and expand the economic opportunities of citizens in countries benefiting from this new transport corridor. Barriers to regional trade and transit and transaction costs will be reduced, in part, through a new Custom Integration Procedure and, between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, a new Cross-Border Transport Agreement. [6] Its projected impact is considerable not only because most of the needed infrastructure is already in place, but also because most of the investment required will focus on improving policy and governance. [4]

The Economic Rate of Return and Net Present Value still need to be established, but with a discount rate applied at 12%, the overall returns are expected to be positive. The Lapis Lazuli Route will connect with Turkey's Middle Corridor Project (“East-West Trans-Caspian Trade and Transport Corridor”). [4]

Four technical discussions on the Lapis Lazuli Route (which encompasses a large part of CAREC Transport Corridor #2) agreement have been held, with the most recent occurring on 15-16 November 2016 in Baku that the text of the agreement finalized. [7] The Lapis Lazuli Route agreement was signed on 15 November 2017 at the side of the Seventh RECCA in Ashgabat. [8]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the route in a Herat ceremony on December 13, 2018. The first trucks transported 175 tons of cotton, dried fruit, and sesame. [2] [3]

Route

The corridor begins from Torghundi in western Herat Province of Afghanistan, and continues to the port (on the Caspian Sea) of Türkmenbaşy in Turkmenistan; after passing the Caspian Sea, the route continues on to Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, and then connects onward to Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, as well as the Georgian ports of Poti and Batumi; finally, the corridor will connect to the cities of Kars and Istanbul, Turkey, at the entrance of Europe. [4]

Objectives

According to the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI), 80 percent of goods shipped from South Asia to Europe will travel by this route (by rail in Afghanistan as well as the countries of the South Caucasus and by ship when crossing the Caspian and Black seas). Furthermore, the planned Lapis Lazuli Corridor aims to make Afghanistan less dependent on Pakistan's Port of Karachi for its exports. [9] The lower trade barriers, reductions in transaction costs, improved cross-border governance through harmonization, increased trade and transit and enhanced regional cooperation are the major aims of the project. The corridor will function under the framework of Transport International Routier (TIR) carnet. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Transport in Turkmenistan includes such as roadways, railways, airways, seaways, waterways, oil, gas and water pipelines.

Transport in Azerbaijan

The transport in Azerbaijan involves air traffic, waterways and railroads. All transportation services in Azerbaijan except for oil and gas pipelines are regulated by the Ministry of Transportation of Azerbaijan Republic.

The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, is a natural gas pipeline being developed by the Galkynysh – TAPI Pipeline Company Limited with participation of the Asian Development Bank. The pipeline will transport natural gas from the Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India. Construction on the project started in Turkmenistan on 13 December 2015, work on the Afghan section began in February 2018, and work on the Pakistani section was planned to commence in December 2018. The abbreviation TAPI comes from the first letters of those countries. Proponents of the project see it as a modern continuation of the Silk Road.

The Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) is a project to create an integrated freight railway network across Europe and Asia. The TAR is a project of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

Economic Cooperation Organization

The Economic Cooperation Organization or ECO is an Asian political and economic intergovernmental organization which was founded in 1985 in Tehran by the leaders of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. It provides a platform to discuss ways to improve development and promote trade and investment opportunities. The ECO is an ad hoc organisation under the United Nations Charter. The objective is to establish a single market for goods and services, much like the European Union. The ECO's secretariat and cultural department are located in Iran, its economic bureau is in Turkey and its scientific bureau is situated in Pakistan.

Islamic Republic of Iran Railways State-owned rail company

The Islamic Republic of Iran Railways is the national state-owned railway system of Iran. The Raja Passenger Train Company is an associate of the IR, and manages its passenger trains. The Railway Transportation Company is an associate of the IR, which manages its freight transport. The Ministry of Roads & Urban Development is the state agency that oversees the IRIR. Some 33 million tonnes of goods and 29 million passengers are transported annually by the rail transportation network, accounting for 9 percent and 11 percent of all transportation in Iran, respectively (2011).

The Afghanistan Oil Pipeline was a project proposed by several oil companies to transport oil from Turkmenistan and Central Asia through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.

Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline

The Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline is a proposed subsea pipeline between Türkmenbaşy in Turkmenistan, and Baku in Azerbaijan. According to some proposals it will also include a connection between the Tengiz Field in Kazakhstan, and Türkmenbaşy. The Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline project is purposed to transport natural gas from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to European Union member countries, circumventing both Russia and Iran. It is also considered as a natural eastward extension of Southern Gas Corridor. This project attracts significant interest since it will connect vast Turkmen gas resources to major consumer geographies as Turkey and Europe.

Rail transport in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has three railroad lines in the north of the country. The first is between Mazar-i-Sharif and the border town of Hairatan in Balkh province, which then connects with Uzbek Railways of Uzbekistan. The second links Torghundi in Herat province with Turkmen Railways of Turkmenistan. The third is between Turkmenistan and Aqina in Faryab province of Afghanistan, which extends south to the city of Andkhoy. The country currently lacks a passenger rail service, but a new rail link from Herat to Khaf in Iran for both cargo and passengers was recently completed. Passenger service is also proposed in Hairatan - Mazar-i-Sharif section and Mazar-i-Sharif - Aqina section.

Chabahar Port

Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar located in southeastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman. It serves as Iran's only oceanic port, and consists of two separate ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti, each of which has five berths.

Azerbaijan–European Union relations

The Republic of Azerbaijan and the European Union (EU) have maintained a positive relationship through the years and have become more closely linked since 1991. Azerbaijan is currently part of the European Neighborhood Policy, Eastern Partnership and the Council of Europe. The EU is the largest foreign grant donor and investor of Azerbaijan, both in the government sector and civil society making available over 600 million EURO of bilateral EU assistance since 1992.

Pakistan–Turkmenistan relations Diplomatic relations between the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Turkmenistan

Pakistan–Turkmenistan relations are the relations between Turkmenistan and Pakistan. Relations between the two countries were established after Turkmenistan became independent from the Soviet Union. Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognise the independence of Turkmenistan in December 1991. Formal diplomatic relations were established on 10 May 1992. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence in 2001 Pakistan issued stamps bearing the flag of Turkmenistan. Pakistan has accorded approval to Turkmenistan for access to the warm water Gwadar Port as well as Iran and Russia, thus providing Turkmenistan direct access to the Arabian Sea

International North–South Transport Corridor

The International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe. The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia via ship, rail and road. The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan, Bandar Anzali, etc. Dry runs of two routes were conducted in 2014, the first was Mumbai to Baku via Bandar Abbas and the second was Mumbai to Astrakhan via Bandar Abbas, Tehran and Bandar Anzali. The objective of the study was to identify and address key bottlenecks. The results showed transport costs were reduced by "$2,500 per 15 tons of cargo". Other routes under consideration include via Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

Port of Baku

Port of Baku is a sea port located in the Bay of Baku, on the coast of city of Baku, Azerbaijan. The main entrance faces the Neftchiler Avenue.

Rail transport in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan has 4,980 kilometres (3,090 mi) of railways. The railway operator is the state owned company Türkmendemirýollary. The company belongs to the Ministry of Railways of Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan is currently expanding their Rail system to cover 5,256.25 kilometres (3,266.08 mi) more distance, which will take their network to 10,236.25 kilometres (6,360.51 mi) track kilometres by 2025

Türkmendemirýollary

Türkmendemirýollary Agency is a state-owned operator of railways in Turkmenistan. The company operates 4,980 km (3,090 mi) of railways and over 345 railway stations throughout the country. The company belongs to the Ministry of Industry and Construction Operation of Turkmenistan. It is headquartered in Ashgabat.

The Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement is a bilateral trade agreement signed in 2010 by Pakistan and Afghanistan that calls for greater facilitation in the movement of goods amongst the two countries.

The Ashgabat agreement is a multimodal transport agreement between the governments of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, India, Pakistan, and Oman for creating an international transport and transit corridor facilitating transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. The agreement came into force in April 2016. Ashgabat in Turkmenistan is the depository state for the agreement.

Wahidullah Waissi

Wahidullah Waissi is a career Afghan diplomat. He is now serving as an Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand and Republic of Fiji. He worked as Director-General for Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from 2012 to 2016 overseeing regional economic cooperation and multilateral development partnerships, chaired economic diplomacy committee, coordinated Regional Economic Cooperation Conference for Afghanistan process and projects and served as a Focal Point for economic Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process.

Pipelines in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is one of the birthplaces of the oil industry and its history is linked to the fortunes of petroleum, with pipelines used from the late 19th century. The total length of main pipeline in Azerbaijan is 4,600 kilometres (2,900 mi)

References

  1. "RECCA: The Lapis Lazuli Route".
  2. 1 2 Storai Karimi; Azizullah Hamdard; Navid Ahmad Barakzai, eds. (December 13, 2018). "Ghani inaugurates Lapis Lazuli route, ring road in Herat". Pajhwok Afghan News . Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  3. 1 2 Javed Hamim Kakar, ed. (December 29, 2018). "Afghanistan's commercial goods arrived in Turkey through Lapis Lazuli route". Pajhwok Afghan News. Retrieved 2020-10-09.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "policymof.gov.af". Archived from the original on 2016-08-25.
  5. "Signing Ceremony of the Lapis Lazuli Transport and Transit Agreement in Ashgabat".
  6. "Discussions on Technical Aspects of Lapis Lazuli Route in Ankara". MFA. March 31, 2016.
  7. "Text of the Lapis Lazuli Route Agreement Finalized". RECCA.
  8. "Five-Nation Lapis Lazuli Trade Agreement Signed".
  9. "Lapis Lazuli 'An Alternative' To Pakistani Trade Routes". TOLOnews.
  10. "Lapis Lazuli: A New Transit Corridor to Link Asia and Europe via the South Caucasus".