Kazakhstan Strengthens China-Russia Trade Links With Railway Expansion

Kazakhstan Strengthens China-Russia Trade Links With Railway Expansion

By Eurasianet – Mar 17, 2024, 10:00 AM CDT

  • Kazakhstan opened a logistics center in Xian, China, aiming to handle 66,000 containers annually.
  • Rail freight traffic between China and Kazakhstan increased by 22% in 2024 compared to 2023.
  • KTZ cooperates with both Chinese and Russian firms to improve transport infrastructure and potentially facilitate trade bypassing sanctions.

Kazakhstan Railways is bolstering its presence in both China and Russia to cement the Central Asian state’s role as a hub for both Europe- and Russia-bound freight rail traffic originating in East Asia.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, speaking via video link, inaugurated a Kazakhstan Railways (KTZ) logistics and innovation center in the central Chinese city of Xian in late February. The facility has the capacity to handle roughly 66,000 standard intermodal containers, as measured in 20-foot equivalent units (TEU), per year.

A KTZ statement noted that roughly 40 percent of all Europe-bound freight trains originating in China are assembled in Xian. “This will infuse momentum into the growth of not just the transport-logistics sector, but [Kazakhstan’s] economy as a whole,” the presidential press service quoted Tokayev as saying, referring to the KTZ presence in Xian.

The state railway company reported that the volume of freight rail traffic between China and Kazakhstan increased by 22 percent during the month of January this year, compared to the same month in 2023, totaling 2.4 million tons. A KTZ subsidiary, meanwhile, announced in early March an agreement with a Chinese logistics firm based in the central city of Chongqing to facilitate the transit via Kazakhstan of at least 200 container trains with a total cargo volume of 20,000 TEU. KTZ is projecting that 3,500 container trains will transit Kazakhstan in 2024 with an expected volume of 350,000 TEU.

KTZ is also cooperating with a Russian firm on the expansion of transport and warehousing capacity for Russia-bound freight, an initiative that can abet sanctions-busting trade. In late February, KTZ signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese firm and Russia’s JVC Slavtrans-Service covering the construction of facilities in Selyatino, a town near Moscow. The memo also outlines plans to strengthen transit links between Xian and Moscow. 

By Eurasianet.org

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