Estonia Considering Shipping Goods Between Europe and China via Kazakhstan

cont_703ASTANA – Estonia is the latest country to publicly mull using Kazakhstan’s transit infrastructure to ship goods between China and Europe.

“We’re considering the shipment of merchandise between Europe and Asia through the port of Tallinn on the Baltic Sea and the port of Lianyungang on the Yellow Sea,” CEO of Estonia’s Port of Tallinn Ain Kaljurand said on March 2, as reported by Spanish international service EFE. He elaborated that the idea is “feasible” given that Kazakhstan’s national railway company, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, is building its own terminal at Lianyungang.

Tallinn, which Kaljurand called one of the most important ports on the Baltic Sea, is operating far below capacity, the CEO said, noting that the transport of Kazakhstan’s exports through the ports has declined in recent years. Kazakhstan has traditionally shipped cereals, coal and oil products through Estonia.

“In December of last year, the transport of coal from Kazakhstan through the port of Tallinn was 40,000 to 50,000 tons, while seven years ago, this quantity was five times greater. The handling of grain was 1.5 million tons, but today it’s zero,” Kaljurand said, according to EFE’s report.

Kazakhstan is in the midst of major transit development, as it aims to capture a greater share of goods shipped from China to Europe. In 2012, a cargo train between Chongqing in southwest China to Duisburg was launched, cutting transit times from months to 15 days as well as cutting costs. In January, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy announced the launch of a pilot “Rail-Air” programme, taking cargo by rail from Chongqing through the Dostyk entry point and to Almaty, then loading it onto flights at Almaty airport, and in February a cargo train travelling from Yiwu, China to Madrid, Spain, via the world’s longest railway line, completed its maiden journey of 16,156 miles, crossing Kazakhstan on its way.

A Kazakh parliamentary delegation visited Tallinn in November of last year, with the development of trade and economic relationships high on the agenda. An Estonian business delegation headed by former Estonian President Arnold Rüütel visited Astana in late February, when the need to develop cooperation in agriculture and transit were discussed, along with Estonia’s potential as a bridge between Kazakhstan and Europe.

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