A trilateral review meeting on the project for commercialization of Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran Railway Corridor (KTI) held virtually on October 28, 2020, participated by representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, as well as relevant officials of the IsDB, ESCAP, ECO and OSJD.
In the opening remarks, Mr. Kanan Nazarov, ECO Deputy Secretary General, while expressing satisfaction with the ongoing activities on the study project, stated that proposed MoU is believed to serve a solid basis for future and uninterrupted interaction between the en-route countries. He also hoped that the future phases of the Study Project would result in transforming the present KTI railway corridor into a competitive, vibrantly developing economic corridor with its all necessary prerequisites to provide livelihood, vital employment, and cumulative benefits for multiple users in the Member States.
The UNESCAP’s Representative, while stressing the significance of the Event, highlighted the interest and huge investments made by the railways of en-route countries to make this route physically feasible and their efforts towards development of the Corridor which is believed to be very important railway connectivity for the Central Asian region and beyond. ESCAP is also hoped to IDB’s future collaboration to enable the steps forward and ultimately convert it into an economic corridor.
The Representative of the Islamic Development Bank, while noting their collective success on the project, recalled that the final goals of the project are to develop and commercialize the corridor. Recalling IsDB’s commitment to the project, considering it to be on priority of the Bank, Bank’s readiness for the physical finances at post-study phase was also noted.
Before initiating the formal proceedings of the meeting, a new proposal for Corridor Management Mechanism (CMM) was provided to the en-route countries along with revised text of the relevant MoU.
A new proposal for CMM and a revised text of MoU are the results of intense deliberations with the en-route countries in the course of virtual meetings in order to find out an acceptable solution, that is to establish a dedicated institutional mechanism instead of initial three-layer structure of CMM, i.e. a permanent working group on KTI railway corridor (PWG-KTI) through an MoU, allowing the countries to work together in a coordinated and sustained way for commercialization of KTI corridor.
It was explained that MoU does not create any new legal instrument and the MOU urges upon all parties to use the existing OSJD legal instruments on railway transport unless decided by all countries otherwise. Bearing the IDB’s deadline in mind, the virtual signing of MoU was proposed by ESCAP enabling its submission to IDB along with relevant documents
The Representatives of Iran and Turkmenistan expressed their, in principle, support to the fresh CMM structure and possibility for signing the MoU. The Meeting decided to allow a two-week time (by 15 November 2020) for securing formal views of the relevant authorities of the en-route countries as to the signing of MoU.
The en-route countries also agreed that the future phases of the Study Project should be result-oriented towards the transformation of the present KTI railway corridor into an economic one with all its prerequisites including, inter alia, developing economic hubs/zones at the areas adjacent to the border crossings points of KTI route, keeping in mind the Khorgos, the special trade zone/dry port on the Kazakhstan-China border, as one of the best practices in the region.