International North-South Transport Corridor as a regional integrative project

International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) – is a multimodal transportation corridor that was jointly created on 12 September 2000 in Saint Petersburg by Iran, Russia and India with a purpose to increase transport cooperation among participating states. The corridor connects Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf with the Caspian Sea via Republic of Iran and then connects with Saint Petersburg and North Europe via Russian Federation.

The International North-South Transport Corridor was expanded recently to include eleven new members, namely: Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Armenia, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Tajikistan, Republic of Turkey, Republic of Ukraine, Republic of Belarus, Oman, Syria, Bulgaria (Observer).

The project development issue was discussed within the framework of the Conference on International North-South Transport Corridor that was held in Moscow on 7 December 2016. Government and business representatives of each member states of the INSTC project took part in the event.

Currently all transportations are of rather demonstrative nature. Gradually, measures to establish regular route activity are being taken. Deputy of the Minister of Transport of Russian Federation Aleksey Cydenov assured that Russia ensures transportation safety and deadline control, and that all processes are being developed in high-quality operating mode.

India and Iran expressed its readiness to be actively involved in the process by signing a strategically important agreement. ‘There was time when the project didn’t develop, but today we think ambitiously, – stated the ambassador of India in Russia Pankaj Saran, – Indian economy is rapidly growing, and we want to link it to the countries which are members of the INSTC. And I am certain, that in 2017 we will observe a breakthrough in work of the INSTC project’.

The importance of development of the INSTC project was discussed by an ambassador of Islamic Republic of Iran in Russia Mehdi Sanal. According to him, INSTC is a global regional project which gives an exceptional economic opportunity to its members and regions and which lowers transportation expenses by 30%.

However, not taking into account its positive aspects, the project requires further refinement. As experts noted, it is necessary to outline the importance of the development of port infrastructure as a connecting point. Also, currently, countries have to unify rules which limit cargo traffic. Furthermore, the creation of unified customs area as well as route optimization will facilitate all transportations.

Currently, an average transit time is about 22 days. According to the director of business development for AO ‘Russian Railways Logistics’ Denis Mazurin, member states face various issues that have to be solved as sooner as possible. For example, today we have a lack of shippers in India, Russia and Iran that are aware of trade opportunities that corridor provides. Moreover, it is necessary to process five carriage documents instead of one and there is no well-developed maritime traffic between Indian and Iran ports, as well as we have lack of container fleet.

Facilitating regular service and corridor traffic activity and its promotion on global market as well as drawing up of unified transportation document may become a solution to all abovementioned problems.

Thus, experts have agreed upon the fact that not taking into consideration the existing shortcomings of the INSTC, the alternative to it does not exist. Therefore, all member states have to make every effort to successfully implement the project. Furthermore, today business acts proactively and is ready to provide deliveries, as INSTC is the most convenient transportation route for them.

Text: Anna Maksimova

Photo: Press office CESiR

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