Astara Railroad’s Role Pivotal in Cargo Transport Along INSTC

Astara Railroad’s Role Pivotal in Cargo Transport Along INSTC
Astara Railroad’s Role Pivotal in Cargo Transport Along INSTC

Azerbaijan and Iran carry out rail, road and sea trade through Astara - the most important border checkpoint between the two countries, Spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration Rouhollah Latifi told Trend News Agency.
Commenting on transit through the International North-South Transport Corridor, Latifi said that thanks to a $65-million investment by Azerbaijan, Astara railroad is important for transporting goods to Azerbaijan, Russia and other countries.
The spokesman noted that a special economic zone has been established in the Astara Port of Iran and goods are currently being transported through this zone.
"The neighboring Azerbaijan is of special importance to Iran due to its geographical position. Goods are transported to Russia, the Black Sea countries and Georgia through Azerbaijan. For this purpose, Iran has implemented ‘eTIR Project’ with Azerbaijan. After Turkey, Azerbaijan is the second country where Iran is implementing the eTIR Project," he said.
The official emphasized that even during the most difficult period of the coronavirus pandemic, all border customs checkpoints of Iran and Azerbaijan were functioning.
"With the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Iran's land border checkpoints with neighboring countries were closed. However, the Astara border checkpoint was never closed and trade between Iran and Azerbaijan continued. Iran's Bileh Savar border checkpoint with Azerbaijan has been operating normally for several months. During the coronavirus pandemic, products were being transported through this checkpoint," he explained.
At present, the situation is normal, as Iranian trucks transport goods to Azerbaijan and transit to other countries, by observing the health protocols.



Regional Trade Turnover

Iran's trade turnover with Azerbaijan amounted to about 137,000 tons worth $58.8 million during the first two months of the current Iranian year (March 21-May 21).
Among the Persian Gulf countries, Iran was Azerbaijan’s biggest trade partner during January-July, according to Azerbaijan’s State Customs Committee.
The country’s trade with Iran stood at $230 million during the period.
The UAE with $27.4 million and Saudi Arabia with $11.9 million followed Iran as the second and third largest trade partners of Azerbaijan in the Persian Gulf region, Azerbaijan State News Agency reported.
Official statistics also show that Iran was the biggest exporter to Azerbaijan during the period in the region.
Iranian exports to Azerbaijan stood at $212.5 million during the seven-month period.
Again, the UAE and Saudi Arabia followed with $19.5 million and $9 million worth of exports respectively.
According to the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, Iran’s exports to Azerbaijan stood at 1 million tons worth $510.99 million in the last Iranian year (March 2020-21), registering an 11% and 18% growth in terms of weight and value respectively YOY.
Exports to Russia stood at 1.05 million tons worth $504.56 million, of which 57% (604,587) were exported via Azerbaijan, registering a 14% and 10% growth in weight and value respectively year-on-year, he added.
Iran’s exports to Azerbaijan and Russia registered growth in the fiscal 2020-21.
About 34% of total exports weighing 360,053 tons entered Russia through the Samur border via road from the borders of Astara and Bileh Savar, crossing the Republic of Azerbaijan, 23% of total exports weighing 244,534 tons were transported to Russia from the Astara border by Azerbaijan railroad and 446,000 tons of goods, accounting for 42% of the total exports to Russia were exported via Amirabad, Fereydounkenar, Noshahr, Anzali and Astara ports.
The first container train sent from Helsinki (Finland) to the Indian port of Nava Sheva arrived in Iran via Astara border, IRIB News reported on June 30.
“The consignment, which arrived in Astara today, contains 563 tons of paper worth €535,000 carried by 32 cars. Customs formalities in the foreign transit procedure were completed in the shortest possible time so that the goods can be transported to Rasht by trucks,” Director General of Astara Customs Terminal Karim Rasouli was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The port city of Astara in Gilan Province borders Azerbaijan Republic and the Caspian Sea.
The train of 32 40-foot containers will deliver a cargo of paper products to India.
The operators of this project are Russia’s JSC Russian Railways Logistics, ADY Container LLC of Azerbaijan and Iran’s Tarkib Trans Company.
This is a pilot project implemented as a result of close cooperation between rail operators of the countries participating in the International North-South Transport Corridor. Depending on the results of the current pilot plan, block trains will move regularly along the corridor.
INSTC is a major transit route designed to facilitate the transportation of goods from Mumbai in India to Helsinki in Finland, using Iranian ports and railroads, which the Islamic Republic plans to connect to those of Azerbaijan and Russia. 
The corridor will connect Iran with Russia’s Baltic ports and give Russia rail connectivity to both the Persian Gulf and the Indian rail network.
This means goods could be carried from Mumbai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and further to Baku. They could then pass across the Russian border into Astrakhan before proceeding to Moscow and St. Petersburg, before entering Europe.
INSTC would substantially cut the travel time for everything from Asian consumer goods to Central Eurasia’s natural resources to advanced European exports.

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