Realising the Potential of the Middle Corridor

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing sanctions greatly complicated overland freight transport between Europe and China via the so-called Northern Corridor, which runs through the Russian Federation. This has prompted renewed attention to the development of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, a multimodal route running through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Türkiye – the so-called “Middle Corridor”. The present report looks at the Middle Corridor’s potential and at the challenges that must be overcome to realise it, drawing on the perspective of relevant private-sector actors in the four Middle Corridor countries. Governments along the corridor have invested heavily to improve transport infrastructure, yet important bottlenecks remain due to the geography of the route, the number of border crossings and the lack of regional trade integration. This study, based on surveys from and interviews with the private sector, maps and sequences main reform priorities in relation to regional integration, infrastructure, trade facilitation and supra-national coordination. It suggests that the primary aim should be to develop the corridor not solely as a transit route for actors from outside the region but as an engine of integration and trade integration in Central Asia and the South Caucasus.

Published on December 13, 2023


Abbreviations and acronyms
Executive summary
The Context: Growing interest in the Middle Corridor
Further regional economic and trade integration is key to the route’s long-term viability
Facilitating trade: harmonisation and digitalisation for traffic development
Improving the Middle Corridor’s attractiveness requires investing in port and rail infrastructure, with a focus on multimodality
Effective implementation: strategic planning, private sector involvement and regional co-operation
Country chapters
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