Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has joined the fifth Central Asian summit as an "honored guest".  It is the first time a leader from outside Central Asia took part in the forum. 

Speaking at the gathering, Aliyev noted yesterday that the growth of mutual trade and investments is one of the key factors of the bilateral cooperation. 

“Last year the trade turnover of Azerbaijan with the Central Asian countries increased more than 3 times.  Over the first seven months of this year – for another 50 %,” Azerbaijani president noted.  

Aliyev, in particular, said that the sphere of transportation and logistics holds an important place in their relations, noting that Azerbaijan is a reliable transit country for the Central Asian countries along the route to the markets of Turkiye and Europe.  

According to him, they are modernizing the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway to meet the rising demand for cargo transportation through the East-West route.  “The cargo volume via that road will be increased from 1 to 5 million tons. In parallel to that, the capacity of the Baku Trade Port is also being expanded from current 15 to 25 million tons,” said. Aliyev.  “Azerbaijan has the largest trade fleet in the Caspian Sea with over 50 vessels. Given the growing demand of the shippers from Central Asia, we are actively working on expanding the capabilities of our shipyard.  Upon the completion of investment projects, the number of manufactured tankers and dry cargo vessels will be increased from current 6 to 10-15 vessels annually.”

He also pointed to the necessity of ensuring optimization of tariffs and simplification and streamlining of regulatory and customs procedures in order to attract larger volume of cargo.

“Digitalization of the East-West transportation corridor is one the key factors in providing for transparency of transit shipping and creating equal opportunities for parties involved in the transportation process,” Aliyev said, noting that the Digital Silk Way project on the establishment of a fiber-optic infrastructure is the new cooperation sphere between our countries that we are actively working on.