The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) project is extremely interesting because it includes the countries involved in the global transport project, creates new jobs, and allows bringing the products of these countries, including Azerbaijan, to European markets, orientalist, professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russia) Aleksey Maslov told.
Maslov reminded that in April last year, new types of passenger trains were tested that will run along this railway, and cargo transportation began even earlier.
“This is the shortest, and in this light, in the case of successful adjustment of tariffs, the most profitable way from Asia to Europe, it reduces the time of transportation of goods from China to two weeks,” said Maslov. “In addition, the BTK is a good platform for the development of tourism along the entire route. Therefore, Azerbaijan and other countries involved should significantly increase their commodity production so that products can be exported to both Europe and Asia.”
The professor noted that the New Silk Road is a part of the global Chinese “One Belt One Road” project which theoretically aims to create new infrastructure networks around the world.
“It is divided into the land part of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road,” the orientalist said. “In reality, of course, its tasks go far beyond logistics projects - first of all, this involves expanding the borders of the Chinese macro-region, creating new chains of surplus value, developing Chinese high technologies.”
“In fact, this is a new form of globalization, which entirely comes from China and managed by it,” Maslov noted. “Each country is free to decide for itself how deep it is ready to be integrated into this project, how willing and able it is to protect its national economy from excessive influence of China and what benefits can be.”
The professor added that China today not only actively uses foreign seaports, but also buys them.
“In 2016, China completed the transaction on the purchase of a 51 percent stake of the Greek Port of Piraeus, and in 2019, China agreed on the purchase of the five biggest Italian ports in the Mediterranean Sea, negotiations are underway with the Baltic ports,” said Maslov.
“That is, China is carefully building the structure of sea, including ocean shipping, and in this sense, the Chinese leadership is as open as possible for cooperation,” the professor noted. “Now there is an active dispute among experts, on what is more beneficial for China: to transport goods by rail, that is, win in speed, or by sea, winning in tonnage and total volumes. Azerbaijan can provide both options.”
Maslov believes that considering Azerbaijan only as a transport hub seems to be too small goal for a country with huge energy resources, as well as a developed industrial and food base.
“Of course, transport hub projects for Azerbaijan significantly stimulate the country’s economy, given its key location in the region and the strategy for Azerbaijan’s further development using the funds received,” said Maslov.
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