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Kazakhstan plans to attract at least 10 million tons of cargo traffic between China and the EU to trans-Kazakhstan routes. Will the transit of goods through the territory of Russia be reduced due to such large-scale projects? Kazakhstan's hopes and aspirations The cargo flow that passed through the transport corridors of Kazakhstan last year amounted to 18 million tons. According to the director of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies Erlan Karin, it is planned to attract at least 10 million tons of cargo between China and the EU to the trans-Kazakhstan routes. "It is believed that the volume of freight traffic between China and the European Union should grow from 117 to 170 million tons by 2020.

According to various estimates, by 2020, it is expected that the volume of trade turnover between China and Europe as a whole will reach from $ 800 billion to $ 1 trillion. Our task is to make sure that a significant part of the cargo flow passes through our territory," E. Karin stressed. He also noted that one of the tasks in the development of the transit transport system of Kazakhstan is to create large land transport highways in cooperation with other countries, primarily with China. To this end, it is planned to attract up to $40 billion of investments in the development of the national transport and transit system of the republic. As previously stated by the Vice-President of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy JSC Bauyrzhan Urynbasarov, today, in order to increase the transport and transit potential of the Kazakhstan -China land transport corridors, the railway logistics infrastructure of two border crossings has been created, which allow for transportation in excess of 40 million tons.

"In 2014, new railway lines were introduced, which optimize the routes of cargo flows in the direction of North – South and East–West by more than 1 thousand km. The effect of launching these lines will be to reduce transport costs by up to 30%, and delivery times will be reduced to 3 days, and, as a result, this will lead to an increase in the transit potential of the country," the vice president of KTZ commented earlier. In addition, 80% of Kazakhstan's transport highways are planned to be repaired by 2020. It is expected that about 300 railway stations will be reconstructed, more than 600 locomotives, 20 thousand freight and passenger cars will be updated. According to various calculations, the implementation of all these measures will allow in 2020 to increase the volume of transit traffic through Kazakhstan by 2 times, and income from it by 3 times. Everything is calm in Russia, transit is extremely promising in terms of Russia's geographical advantages.

In addition, the modernization and development of the largest highways are underway: the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur. However, not everything is so smooth. "Today, the transit that exists is focused on domestic consumption, CIS countries, and only 6-8% is related to the real use of the capabilities of the Eurasian bridge for the delivery of goods from the Asian-Pacific region to the EU, North and Latin American markets," said Leonid Shlyapnikov, associate Professor of the Logistics Faculty of the HSE Logistics Infrastructure Management Department. Nevertheless, while Kazakhstan is making plans, the transit of goods through Russia is slowly but increasing. Recall that last year transit in communication with the Republic of Korea increased by 4%, with China – by 98%, with Japan – by 102%.

The Russian Railways Partner wrote more about this at the beginning of the year. Today, according to the international association "Coordinating Council for Trans-Siberian Transportation" (KSTP), the volume of transit cargo continues to grow. Thus, in the Russia – China message, the volume of transit cargo increased from 14.7 thousand. TEU for 5 months of 2014 to 30.4 thousand. TEU for the same period of 2015, that is, the growth was 2.1 times. Since the beginning of the year, transit has also increased in communication with Japan by 60%. However, with South and North Korea, it fell (by 28 and 84%, respectively). Competition is not yet corridors, but modes of transport According to market participants, today most of the cargo flow from the Asia-Pacific countries to Europe goes by sea, as well as in the opposite direction. That is why we should talk about competition not so much between countries for transit cargo flows, but between different modes of transport. "So far, the delivery of containers, bulk, bulk and bulk cargo by sea lines wins both in terms of cost, and in terms of rhythmicity, stability of delivery. Large investments and large-scale project work are needed to develop alternatives through railway and terminal capacities within Russia.

The main task is to achieve a competitive price while ensuring modern standards of quality, manufacturability and safety. In this case, it is possible to achieve a real reduction in delivery time, which will be a major advantage of the development of such a scheme," L. Shlyapnikov believes. According to his observations, at this stage container traffic is growing through the global East–West sea trade routes (between the Asia-Pacific region, the EU and North America) and there is an explosive growth of the global South–South route (Oceania – Asia-Pacific region – Latin America). However, the General Director of JSC "Shenker" Aivar Taurins claims that today there is also a differentiation of routes, and the most actively developing railway transit corridor and air transportation. As for transit corridors, the TRACECA corridor and the most powerful geopolitical bloc CAREC represent a serious alternative to the movement of goods through Russia.

As L. Shlyapnikov notes, within the framework of the development of this direction, it is planned to implement more than 150 projects with a total cost of about $ 25 billion. At the same time, over 100 of them are projects related to the development of transport infrastructure. "Kazakhstan is taking an active part in this program, laying a new corridor through the territory of the Caucasian republics and Turkey, which today already plays the role of a distribution center for Central Asia, CIS, Russia and the Middle East," he explains. The reasons for the active desire to develop transit through Kazakhstan, according to L. Shlyapnikov, geopolitical.

"Control over cargo flows is control over the economy. The development of transport and infrastructure is traditionally followed by the development of other industries and other segments of the national economy. TRACECA and the CAREC projects are vivid examples of the integrated development of international transport corridors in Eurasia. Russia should participate more actively in this process, opening up additional opportunities and creating infrastructure primarily for international business structures and logistics operators," L. Shlyapnikov is convinced.

FM Logistic International Transportation Manager Ivan Golovko believes that Kazakhstan's plans are quite justified and commendable. "You can still get to Kazakhstan only through the territory of Russia – other routes (through the Caspian Sea or bypassing Iran) are undeveloped and far from massive. Of course, we can assume that some cargo will leave the Trans-Siberian Railway, perhaps the Far East will suffer a little. However, the geography of Kazakhstan's supplies is somewhat different, and these changes are insignificant," he argues.

The chairman of the Board of Directors of NAWINIA, Rustam Yuldashev, is confident that Russia should not expect a threat from Kazakhstan. "Today, the volume of transit through the Russian Federation is still very small, so there is not much to lose," he comments. According to him, there is no formulated transit policy in Russia. As well as in Kazakhstan, it is just being formed. In addition, according to I. Golovko, Kazakhstan is a very important country in transit not to Europe, but to the countries of Central Asia (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan). However, other market participants believe that if it is more profitable for shippers to work with Kazakhstan, then part of the cargo flows may be reoriented.

"If any preferences are available to shippers, or at least the quality of services will not be worse, then a clear, clear product with good value and guaranteed delivery times and cargo safety can compete," A. Taurins suggests. And yet, according to most experts, cargo transit through Russia is unlikely to decrease in the near future, even despite the rapid development of infrastructure projects in Kazakhstan. However, this does not mean that we should forget about the further development of the BAM and Transsib, as well as the alternative Northern Sea Route. 

Tatiana Simonova