Transit – Klondike of Kazakhstan

Transit – Klondike of Kazakhstan

By Ilya Blogger

The expertise of potential incomes from transit traffic through the territory of Kazakhstan comprises about 2 billion USD. However, yet this lot is more like a ripe apple beyond the reach of native specialists in transport and logistics. A part of them think, that the fruit has already been gathered by China.

Logist Geography of transit is a complete priority of Kazakhstan. There are only few countries in the world that have no access to a seaway but possess such a great potential for international transit. When in 2008 the Russian Federation adopted a decision on energy support of Kyrgyzstan, Astana gained 15 million USD out of air, using simply already existing transport objects and facilities. Or the example of national air-transporting company of Uzbekistan: this year “Kazanaeronavigatsiya” have raised transit tariffs for 21% for the company and it has to pay as they can’t fly around Kazakhstan territory geographically.

Government of the country acknowledges the role and the importance of transit, which is proved by annual “Letters” of the President Nursultan Nazarbayev to Kazakh people: “We should maintain, renovate and extend transport infrastructure persistently. We should use the transit potential of our country in full capacity, and thus we need to integrate our transport system into international one”.

> Kazakhstan Map

After the collapse of the USSR more than 90% of external transport corridors of Kazakhstan had the way out through Russia. Especially it was hard for oil industry of the country. In practice the relative pipeline dependence of Kazakhstan began in 2001 after the commissioning of the CPC oil pipeline (Caspian Pipeline Consortium) and the shipment of the first oil-tanker with black gold in the harbor of “Novorossisk”. In comparison with all other export pipelines, CPC doesn’t belong either to “Transneft” or to “Gazprom” – this is an international consortium along its total length.

Due to the wish of the European Union to gain a transport corridor around the territory of Russia the TRACECA project appeared (Central Asia – Caucasus - Europe). But the number of project participants (13) impedes sound competitiveness with Russian transport ways (too many procedures by borders crossing), however an alternative has appeared. The second life gained “Aktau international maritime trade port”, that was in decline in 90-s.

Thanks to TRACECA transport arteries of Kazakhstan traditionally lying from North to South, began developing from East to West.

After interconnection of Turkmen and Iranian railways, railway transport gained access from Kazakhstan to Turkey and then to Persian Gulf. Unfortunately, Astana can’t find common transport ground with Uzbekistan which worsens total transit background within the region substantially.

Due to the Aktau Port the Republic is included into international transport corridor North – South (Northern Europe – Russia – Iran - India). However, the greatest hopes of Kazakh transport agencies are connected with potential of internal continental ways between Europe and China. It’s hard to go round two and a half square meters of Kazakhstan that is why local logistic agencies put all efforts to use them effectively.

At the moment the delivery of standard container from Shanghai to Hamburg costs 650 EURO (discount is possible). Intercontinental ways can’t compete with the kind of quotation. However, they have their own trump – time. Marine way is longer for 25-30 days. “By the definite cost of cargo it is more profitable to transport the good over land”. We need to work within a definite direction, to chose cargoes”, -- specified Nikolay Kashirin, Commercial Director of “Amanat Invest Group”.

The objective of the latest operations of Kazakh logistics companies is to attract a part of goods flow from marine to intercontinental corridors.

We are not talking about great volumes as it the railway capacity is smaller even provided trains would run non-stop. Nevertheless, the scale of transportation is pretty great within the context of overland flows.

Meanwhile, skeptics state that Kazakhstan has already lost its great struggle for transit. When from Shanghai to Saint-Petersburg is 700 EURO and from Urumchi to Almaty 3500 USD for twenty-foot container, than it’s rather profitable to deliver Chinese goods to Nizhniy Novgorod through the port in Saint-Petersburg than through transcontinental corridor through Kazakhstan.

Logistics conquered geography. In addition own school of logistics hasn’t been established during all the years of independence.

In any case Kazakhstan is a main transit territory for Southern Post-Soviet Republics. And if Uzbekistan needs to sell its cotton to Russia, Turkmenistan needs to supply its gas to China and Tajikistan needs to deliver fruits to Belarus – they won’t be able to do that without crossing borders of Kazakhstan. In spite of all unfavorable factors, Astana possesses a so-called radius of transit influence within which these or that economic decisions will be adequate. The State promises to concentrate efforts for the transit potential to create new lines of life and additional budget incomes of the country.

Translated from


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