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Kazakhstan could play key transport logistics role for rising Euro-Asian trade: UN report

Published: 17 May 2019

Improving the competitiveness of Kazakhstan as a transport logistics centre at the crossroads of Europe and Asia could enable the country to unlock significant untapped benefits of growing cargo flows between the two continents.

For this, it is critically important for Kazakhstan to create a modern transport infrastructure network, together with a highly efficient logistics system that is integrated into international networks.

These are among the key findings of a UNECE study, released today. The study identifies the transport infrastructure and services available in Kazakhstan, reviews the country’s extensive recent and future transport investments, and sets out recommendations to ensure its transport network is ready to harness the growth in inland transport from rising East-West trade, particularly in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, within which Kazakhstan could occupy a strategic geographical position.

International transport corridors offer the principal means for the country to access regional markets for goods and services, and also play a significant role in providing transport links between the country’s main economic centres.

Road transport is the largest freight transport sector in Kazakhstan. The country envisages the creation of an extensive network of roads to improve domestic and regional connectivity. These international road corridors, which are all included in the Euro-Asian Transport Links (EATL) project supported by UNECE, will provide access to important international ports, transport hubs and terminals.

Rail transport is of significant importance for both domestic traffic as well as for exports/imports and transit freight traffic.  By 2021, it is planned to build 1,302 km of railway sections, electrify 522 km of railway lines and modernize 6,925 km of the upper track structure, which will further increase the importance of Kazakhstan’s railways in the region. 

With 4,000 km of navigable waterways, Kazakhstan's water transport also has significant potential to contribute to the transit of goods, as the main rivers in the country flow through several other countries. By 2021, it is planned to increase the capacity of the seaports of Kazakhstan to 20.5 million tonnes and to increase the share of Kazakhstan in the sea transportation of goods in the Caspian Sea to 70%. In addition, aviation has a key place in the transport sector considering the large territory of the country, the presence of 23 airfields and improving levels of service and competitiveness of the sector.

To further capitalize on Kazakhstan’s pivotal role in Euro-Asian transport logistics, the study identifies the benefits of adhering to and implementing the full spectrum of UN Transport Conventions and Legal Instruments administered by UNECE, and through its continued participation in UNECE initiatives such as the Euro-Asian Transport Links project.

The study also highlights strengthening the harmonization of legislation as one of the most important conditions for the development of the transport infrastructure of Kazakhstan and the broader region. Of the 40 UNECE agreements and conventions that contribute to improved road transport and border crossing procedures, 11 have not been signed by any of the member States of the region. A similar picture is also clear for other conventions and legal instruments in the transport sector administered by UNECE.

The study is the latest in a series of such assessments undertaken by UNECE, joining studies for Belarus and Tajikistan, to be followed by a study on Kyrgyzstan.

The study continues the work of UNECE in building capacity of member States for the implementation of the 59 UN Inland Transport Conventions and the development of sustainable transport policies as a foundation and catalyst for the Sustainable Development Goals.

The study is available at: https://www.unece.org/index.php?id=51723

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