THE TRANS-AFGHAN TRANSPORT CORRIDOR: STATE INTERESTS AND DEVELOPMENT PROSPECTS
Azamat Zokhidov, Ph.D. (Econ.), Researcher at the Tashkent Institute of Road Traffic (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
Efforts are currently being stepped up to create a Trans-Afghan transport corridor (TATC), motivated primarily by its vast transit capabilities and the role it can play in developing economic relations in the Central Asia region. Furthermore, it is important to note that building a transport infrastructure in Afghanistan capable of invigorating integration with neighboring states is not only vital for developing the country’s economy, but also for ensuring its domestic political stability.
Given their unique geographic location, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan have advantageous conditions for creating and developing intercontinental transport corridors. For example, the main international transport corridors pass through the territory of Uzbekistan, which is one of the largest Central Asian states. This makes it extremely attractive from the viewpoint of Eurasian goods and passenger transit via the shortest route in essentially all directions. Moreover, intensive development of Uzbekistan’s foreign trade demands organizing efficient international cargo carriage.
On 18 June, 2003, in order to promote the restoration of Afghanistan’s economy, raise its transit potential, and develop economic trade cooperation in the region, the heads of state of Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iran signed an Agreement on building international transport corridors via the Termez-Hayraton-Mazar-e Sharif-Herat-Meshed-Bandar Abbas route.
It should be noted that full-fledged implementation of this project largely depends on how all-embracing and similar the interests of the regional states are, as well as on the level of their cooperation in this vector.
This article analyzes the interests of those states involved in creating the TATC, as well as the prospects for its development.
Interests of the Regional States
At the moment, the regional states (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and China) are not unanimous in their opinion about building the TATC. Along with their shared considerations, some states also have alternative proposals for gaining access to the southern ports through Afghan territory.
Iran’s Interests. The following factors are conducive to cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and the……………..