February 2nd, 2012
04:06 PM GMT
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Baku, Azerbaijan (CNN) – Sitting in the middle of the Caucasus, on the shores of the landlocked Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is a nexus of trade routes from Asia to Europe. Now, a new port for the capital Baku and huge investment in transport routes mean new potential for the region’s exports.

In Azerbaijan, carpet weaving is a centuries-old tradition, dating back to ancient Persia. Vidadi Muradov, director of the Azer Ilme carpet factory, told CNN’s Becky Anderson: The new port is being built right now, and it's actually important for us because it gives us more options to open up to the world and export our goods, including carpets. It gives us a proper gateway to the world.”

The Caspian Sea and its shipping lanes were once vital to the region’s exports, part of what was known as the maritime Silk Way.

Sea routes in the region are still important for international trade links. The port of Baku is beginning a new phase, moving away from the old historic center, shifting south to Alat, 80 kilometers along the coast.

“This is a suitable place for a port because it's a transportation hub,” said Soltan Kazimov, chief engineer at Baku port. “It's where all the roads going to Russia, to Iran, to Georgia meet. All the roads and railways go from here.”

In three-and-a-half years the site will be fully operational. For now the work involves dredging the depths of the Caspian Sea, making way for increased sea traffic with a seven km-long navigational channel.

Baku's new port will feature a rail ferry system - ships with tracks, which transport trains across the water and into Central Asia. It's part of a masterplan to carry railway freight from China's eastern ports through to Europe.

“Baku's new seaport will be of regional importance and a very large logistics center established there. Cargo transportation from China and Central Asia to Europe will grow significantly,” said Akif Mustafayev, of the international transport program TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia).

China currently exports 10 million containers of cargo a year to Europe and the United States, mainly by sea. If Baku can entice just a small percentage of that cargo through the new port, the economic benefits for the region would be huge. Not least for its carpet exports.



soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. eman

    You will not believe what was happening in the stadium during the match

    http://upload40.com/12157.html

    February 2, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  2. Meg

    What this article doesn't touch on is that Baku is already known for it's oil and natural gas resources and that both the people there and European and American Oil businesses have been taking the land for all that it's worth. Or that the President and much of the government is so incredibly corrupt that nothing is really /done/ for the people who really need the help, with the exception of the Expats who are aware of the situation and doing what they can to help.

    Every time someone says benefits for the region on an economic level woul dbe huge, it backfires. Azerbaijan is in a time of great difficulty and struggle as much of the landscape and buildings that made up their cultural heritage are razed in favor of modernizing. Graves of relatives of Mohammed are moved in favor of roads to allow companies more chance of 'modernizing', and yet at the same time animals are covered in oil slick from wells that were drilled before World War II. The pollution of the ecological system there is at an all time high and what the people need most, more than anything? Is something they, particularly those who are forced to work three jobs just to keep a tiny matchbox apartment, should decide for themselves.

    Not the corrupt government that currently manages it – and certainly not any foreign interests. The people of Azerbaijan are kind and compassionate and hard working. They have the tools to make and enact change. Their government simply needs to allow them to do so.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:50 am |
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    August 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm |

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