Hub in the corridor
The economy of Azerbaijan is strongly dominated by the oil and gas industry. In order to reduce its dependence on this particular sector, the government is pressing ahead with plans to diversify and reform the country’s economy. The port of Baku plays a major part in the administration’s grand scheme.
The port of Baku has big plans for the future. The hub on the Caspian Sea wants to exploit its potential as a regional centre for transport through Transcaucasia and Central Asia. One of the main pillars of its strategy is the Traceca programme, which was initiated by the European Union as early as 1993 and whose implementation is now bringing major benefits to the port. The project promotes the development of a transport corridor along the east-west axis running from Central Asia to Europe via the Caucasus and the Black Sea.
Even though, at 26.3 million t, the volume of freight moved on the Azerbaijani section of Traceca between January and May 2015 was nearly 2 million t lower than in the same period last year, the result is still impressive. In this connection, road transport accounted for 56.3% of the total figure, rail for 30.7% and sea transport for 13%. But even if the volume of freight has fallen marginally, the government should have nothing to complain about. In the first six months of 2015, revenue from traffic through the corridor amounted to AZN 295.5 million (USD 246.78 million), which is 7% more than in the corresponding period of the previous year.
Approximately 3.1 million t was transported by vessel in the period between January and May 2015. The throughput of goods in Azerbaijani ports amounted to 4.2 million t.
Oil and petroleum products accounted for 71.2% of the freight carried by ship, and dry goods for 28.8%. International transit freight made up 94.5% of the ports’ throughput. Up to 1 June 2015, 56,800 t of import cargo had entered the country through its ports.
A positive outlook
The outlook for the future is good, as this share is likely to increase with the development of the Baku International Sea Trade Port. The old port is located in the city centre, and as a result of the restricted space it has not been possible to fully exploit its potential. By contrast, the new terminal is located on a spacious site and is provided with modern equipment. This is a good basis for its future development. The new Baku international ferry port is in Alat, 40 miles to the south of Baku. It already began operating in 2014, whereas the development of the Baku sea port is still in progress. Here, too, operations are scheduled to begin before the end of this year.
In an initial phase, the new port will have an annual capacity of up to 10 million t of freight and 40,000 teu. After a further expansion, its capacity will increase to 17 million t of cargo and 150,000 teu. Completion of a final, third phase will bring its capacity up to 25 million t of freight and 1 million teu. In addition to the logistics centre, a free economic zone is to be established for this area.