ASTANA – Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis and Kazakhstan’s First Deputy Prime Minister Askar Mamin launched Sept. 29 via teleconference in Riga a new container service in the China-to-Europe transcontinental route, the Kazakh Prime Minister’s press service reported.
The container train’s route starts in Urumqi, China, runs through Kazakhstan, Russia and Latvia and then navigates through the port of Riga to the port of Rotterdam.
“Kazakhstan is one of Latvia’s key partners for the successful integration into the Eurasian transport routes and the creation of an efficient transport corridor on the Eurasian scale,” said Vejonis at the meeting.
The Kazakh government has said it hopes the new routes, the diversification of the existing ones, the optimal use of the railway infrastructure and the implementation of a flexible tariff policy will allow China-to-Europe container traffic to reach 200,000 containers through the Baltic region.
Mamin and Vejonis also discussed economic cooperation and Mamin noted his visit continues the progress made during the Latvian President’s July 9-10 visit to Kazakhstan. He also said Kazakhstan would like to increase cooperation in information, space and green technologies.
According to the Latvian President’s press service, Vejonis noted Latvia seeks to develop a direct air transport with Kazakhstan. He also said there is potential to increase cooperation in education, information and communication technologies, as well as in environment and clean technologies.
“I am convinced that Latvia’s participation in the Astana EXPO 2017 international exhibition has given our countries the opportunity to develop bilateral political and economic cooperation,” said Vejonis.
At a meeting with the president of the Latvijas dzelzceļš (LDz) railway company Edvins Berzins, Mamin said Kazakhstan had chosen Latvia as the main freight logistics and distribution centre in the Baltic region and called for cooperation to develop the port of Khorgos at the Kazakhstan-China border, LDz’s press service reports.
Mamin said containerised cargo traffic along the Kazakh railway system could reach 200,000 containers by 2020.
“This is a significant number. We have chosen Latvia as the place to build a logistics and distribution centre in the Baltic region, therefore we rely on close cooperation,” Mamin emphasised.
Berzins and Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) national railway company’s Vice President Sanzhar Yelubayev signed a memorandum on cooperation to develop transit routes, the harbour logistics centre of the future Khorgos harbour and new transit flows through the centre. According to the memorandum, both parties will provide container transport from China through Kazakhstan to Riga and cooperate on handling goods transported to the port of Khorgos.
LDz’s subsidiary LDz Logistika signed a transport expedition agreement with Kazakhstan’s railway subsidiary KTZ Express.
“Kazakhstan is a very important partner in providing transit flows between China and Europe, and the creation of a new strategic partnership is crucial for attracting new freight. Kazakhstan, like Latvia, is currently playing a major role in securing China’s freight, and the port of Khorgos at the Chinese border is a far-reaching solution. Just as far-sighted, we need to get involved in both this and the upcoming strategically important projects that will ensure a growing flow of freight in the future,” Berzins said.
Negotiations on cooperation in the port of Khorgos were launched this summer, when EXPO 2017 hosted LDz’s Transit and Logistics Week events with the participation of Prime Minister’s office and KTZ’s senior management.
The port of Khorgos is considered an important logistics development project for Kazakhstan and authorities hope it will attract new freight flows.