Monday, 28 October 2019 10:42

Uzbekistan can become a transit hub of Central Asia

Caspian Energy (CE): Which major points will be included into the strategy for the development of the transport system of Uzbekistan for the period until 2035?
Achilbay Ramatov, First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Transport of Uzbekistan: The Ministry of Transport is finalizing its work over the preliminary strategy for the development of the transport system of Uzbekistan for the period until 2035, and the work over the road map on its implementation. The strategy defines key challenges in development of the transport system of the Republic and ways of their solution. The challenges are as follows: institutional, legislative, social, ecological, logistical, staffing, safety, poor quality of transport services, etc.
The following measures have been defined to address the challenges: to improve efficiency of institutes shaping and implementing a single national transport policy; to ensure quality and availability of transport services for the population; to deliver on the transport-transit potential through an advanced development of efficient transport and logistics infrastructure, active engagement in the international transport corridors; to ensure high security of transport system; to ensure environmental compatibility of transport and provide conditions for the green transport development; to increase the share of innovations in the transport system, accelerated digitalization of the transport sector, etc.
Moreover, the project of the Strategy envisages a basic and innovative approach of development of the transport system for the period until 2035.

CE: Which measures will be taken to improve the country’s position in the international ratings assessing the logistics efficiency?
Achilbay Ramatov:  First of all, it is important to shorten the time it takes to pass customs procedures at crossing points of the state borders of the Republic of Uzbekistan, to improve the motor road infrastructure; raise competence of national carriers in terms of quality of service provision to the population and business;  improve railway and aviation infrastructure; assist business, tourism and population in getting qualitative and operational transport services; attract direct investments and financial instruments of international financial institutions and private capital to develop the logistics industry and create modern multimodal logistics parks and industrial zones within the republic; establish constructive cooperation and exchange experience with leading foreign transport-logistics and industrial companies; deliver freights on time set by consignors.

CE: Which large infrastructure projects to be implemented soon in the transport-logistics field of Uzbekistan could you note?
Achilbay Ramatov:  Noteworthy is the implementation of projects (including on public-private partnership conditions) on construction of 9 modern customs terminals at surrounding areas of the border customs posts in 2019-2021, as well as implementation of projects on construction and reconstruction of 61 bus stations and bus terminals in 2019-2021.
Among the projects is also the construction of Tashkent-Samarkand and Tashkent-Andijan toll roads, modernization of international airports in Tashkent and regions of the republic,  implementation of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway construction project and the Mazari-Sharif - Gerat and Mazari-Sharif - Kabul-Peshavar railway construction projects.

CE: Which measures are taken in Uzbekistan in the field of air transport arteries in order to develop regional transport and attract tourists?
Achilbay Ramatov: At present, the leadership and the government of the Republic of Uzbekistan are taking drastic measures to improve civil aviation of the Republic of Uzbekistan, aimed at meeting citizens’ needs in air transportation, ensuring high level of service to passengers in the airports and providing necessary comfortable conditions for them. Implemented were infrastructure projects on reconstruction of airports, air-strips, construction of passenger terminals which helped to bring all airports of the country to conformity with international standards of ICAO, raise the security of flights and service quality.
Passenger terminals were built at Tashkent, Bukhara, Urgench, Fergana and Navoi airports. An arrival terminal with the capacity of up to 1,200 passengers per hour was launched in the capital for international flights. The Nukus terminal is capable of receiving 400 passengers per hour. A new passenger terminal with the capacity of up to 400 passengers per hour was opened at the Termez international airport. 
A number of other projects aimed at reconstruction and modernization of infrastructure at the republic’s airports is planned to be implemented in the medium term.
New regular flights have been opened in terms of the extension of the geographic reach of flights. Flights to Mumbai, Vladivostok, Jidda and Jakarta have been launched. The issue of opening flights in the direction of Tbilisi, Munich and Karachi is worked on. The frequency of international flights has significantly increased. For instance, the number of one of the most in-demand Tashkent-Moscow flights reached up to 21 flights per week. Together with flights made to the capital of Russia from Samarkand, Bukhara, Urganch, Termez, Namangan and Fergona this indicator reached 49. The frequency of flights from Tashkent to Seoul, Dushanbe, Bishkek, Minsk, Rostov-on- the Don, Astana and Novossibirsk has increased as well. 14 flights from the capital and 3 flights from Samarkand are made every week to Istanbul, one of the most popular directions.
To ensure favorable conditions for an operation of additional companies in the air transportation market, including low-cost carriers (lowcosters) and companies providing services to business aviation, steps are taken to attract direct foreign investments to improve infrastructure of airports, including the use of mechanisms of the public-private partnership  and cooperation with leading international companies in the field of airports management. Apart from this, the project of the concept of the Central Asian hub is being developed and aimed at step-by-step creation of the center service for transfer flows between the South-East Asian, South Asian, CIS and European points.
Taking of these measures will reduce expenditures of air companies and optimize air ticket prices for consumers, as well as increase the number of routes and flights performed in international and domestic directions, which it turn will positively contribute to the development of tourism in the Republic of Uzbekistan.

CE: What could you say about the cooperation with Azerbaijan in the field of civil aviation?
Achilbay Ramatov:  The Uzbek-Azerbaijani relationship in the field of civil aviation is regulated by the agreement on air traffic and cooperation in the field of air transport reached between the governments of the Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan republics on 02.11.1996, as well as by memoranda and consultation protocols signed between aviation authorities of the two countries. Aviation authorities, as well as air companies appointed from both countries, are regularly holding bilateral consultations to develop the civil aviation cooperation between Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. The aviation authorities of both countries held negotiations within the framework of the meeting of the joint intergovernmental commission for cooperation between the Republics of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. Discussed in the course of these negotiations were issues of liberalization of the air transport markets, prospects of further cooperation of the two countries in the field of civil aviation, consideration and signing of the aviation agreement projects. According to the results of negotiations, signed was a memorandum of understanding providing the appointed air companies of both countries a right to perform regular passenger flights with a frequency of 14 times per week from each side and regular limitless cargo flights in directions given in the supplement to the agreement. 
Formerly appointed carriers of the two countries had a right for performing regular passenger flights with a frequency of 7 times a week.
At present, regular passenger flights from Uzbekistan are performed by “O‘zbekiston Havo Yo‘llari” Air Company with a frequency of 3 times a week, and the flights from Azerbaijan are performed twice a week by Azerbaijan Airlines.

CE:  Which prospects do you see for Uzbekistan’s participation in international transport corridors such as Baku-Tbilisi-Kars, North-South, Baku International Sea Trade Port, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars?
Achilbay Ramatov: Georgraphic location specifics of Uzbekistan will let it become one of the key transit hubs of Central Asia and source of getting long-term dividends from transit transportation within the framework of trade-economic relations of Central Asian countries with Turkey, European Union, Russia, Afghanistan and countries of the Persian Gulf. Depending on the transport corridors to be chosen by the European and Central Asian consignors, the below given corridors of TRACECA  will be used: 1)  rail and road routes Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan-Caspian Sea-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Black Sea region or Georgia-Turkey-European Union;
2) rail and road routes Kyrgyzstan – Turkmenistan - Caspian Sea – Azerbaijan – Georgia - Black Sea region or Georgia-Turkey-European Union.
Uzbekistan’s getting dividends from trade operations and cargo transportation is possible in future at flexible and prompt response to transport and tariff policy of the European Union, at further expansion of economic and logistical cooperation of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan with the European Union by means of value chains oriented at export/import via Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan’s strategic interest in regard to the North-South international transport corridor lies mainly in general growth of interest of leading Eurasian economies in use of land corridors. If the countries-participants of the above mentioned North-South ITC manage to establish a scheme of stable, quick and cheap transportation of freights, then one of the results can be the growth of the Indian business’ interest in Central Asia, which in turn can yield dividends to Uzbekistan, including in terms of transit freight transportation.
If the operation quality of this corridor gets higher, another potential source of dividends can arise from the growth of interest of the South-East Asia countries and China (coastal economic centers in the East of the country) which can use the corridor as an option for redirecting a part of maritime freight transportation from the Suez channel. This in turn will be one of the reasons for the growth of South-East Asian exporters’ interest in Central Asian markets, especially in Uzbekistan.

CE: In your opinion, which substantial changes shall a new project of the law on transport bring into the transport industry of the country?
Achilbay Ramatov: Today there are certain legislative acts regulating the transport. These are the Uzbekistan Republic’s laws on the road transport, on railway transport, air code and many other legislative acts. But there is no single Law which would ensure optimal and balanced harmonious interaction of different types of transport.
The Ministry of Transport has started working out the draft of the law since February 2019. The draft law envisages the following important standards: regulating the development of intermodal, multimodal, mixed transportation, hub-based transportation technologies; setting of concrete requirements to transport organizations engaged in performance of mixed carriages, as well as to transport and other technical facilities used when making such types of transportation; issues of arranging mixed traffic, their basis, agreements, cost clearing, forms of single consignment vouchers (single bill of lading), responsibility, claims, etc. Moreover, the law will envisage definition of major principles of transport logistics such as: legality; focus on customer needs; security; safety; unity of procedures; equal access.
It is expected to set rules regulating transport safety, train skilled human resources for preventing terrorism in transport, organize an operation of transport facilities in emergency situations, ensure safety and environmental regulation in transport, etc. All of it will promote the creation of the legal framework ensuring real protection of national interests of Uzbekistan in the global market of transport services.
In general, adoption of the draft law on transport shall ensure harmonic development of all types of transport, mobility of population and availability of transportation services, safety and environmental friendliness of the transportation system of the republic.

Thank you for the interview

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