Economy, Domestic Economy

Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan Discuss Rail Tariffs

Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan Discuss Rail TariffsIran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan Discuss Rail Tariffs

Top railway officials from Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan held a joint meeting in Tehran on Saturday with the aim of facilitating rail transport between the three countries.

Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (IRIR), Mohsen Pour Seyyed Aqaei called for the expansion of trade relations between Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, adding that development of railroad transport with the northern neighbors is of "high priority" for the Iranian government, IRNA reported.

To arrive at a uniform transit fee among the three countries, Pour Seyyed Aqaei suggested a transit fee of $120 per ton for cargo transport from Kostanay in Kazakhstan to Bandar Abbas in Iran. He also proposed establishing a working group to set the transit fees if the countries fail to reach an agreement.

Head of Kazakhstan railway, Asgar Mamin announced that trade volume between Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan stood at 5 million tons in 2013, indicating a 35% growth over the past 9 years.

He further noted that exports from Kazakhstan accounted for 2.9 million tons of the total trade, while the volume of trade between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan stood at 2.5 tons, indicating a 30% growth compared with the previous year. He also noted that freight transport between Iran and Kazakhstan grew by 8% since last year.

Turkmenistan's Railways Minister, Anna Meredev, also noted that her country has completed the construction of a 1,000 kilometer stretch of railways to open the Inche Boroun railway in Turkmenistan. "Development of railway transportation among the three countries is of prime importance for Turkmens," she added.

Turkmenistan transported more than one million tons of goods to Khazakhstan last year, while only 20 tons of goods were transported to Iran through Inche Boroun border in the past two months, she said, adding: "Turkmenistan is prepared to transport up to 400 tons of goods to Iran on a daily basis."

Noting that transit fees differ in the three countries, railway official Hossein Ashouri said: "Transporting wheat from Kazakhstan to Iran costs $64 per ton, while transporting wheat from Turkmenistan to Iran costs only $24 per ton." He suggested that the three countries must agree on a fixed and unified transit rate for transporting goods among them.

At the end of the meeting, the three countries agreed to start transporting goods from Kostanay in Kazakhstan to Bandar Abbas within 10 days. It was also decided that the three countries' railway deputies meet in Kazakhstan to reach an agreement regarding the transit fees.

A long-awaited transnational railway linking Central Asia with the Persian Gulf was officially inaugurated in December last year in a ceremony attended by the three countries' presidents.

The railway which was under construction since 2007, is 925 kilometers long, with 85 km in Iran's territory, 700 km in Turkmenistan and 140 km in Kazakhstan. The corridor shortens the distance between the Persian Gulf, Central Asia and Europe.

It is estimated to initially transport three to five million tons of cargos every year. The volume is expected to increase up to 10-12 million tons in the long term.