On July 22, a video conference was held with the participation of officials of Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Iran on boosting ties in the field of transport, implementation of promising projects, the Ministry of Transport of Uzbekistan said in a statement.
The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Transport Elyor Ganiev of Uzbekistan, the Minister of Transport Yamo Shams of Afghanistan and the Minister of Roads and Urban Development Muhammad Islami of Iran.
The Minister Ganiev noted that the coronavirus pandemic has seriously complicated the economic relations between the countries and at a time when the volume of freight traffic between the countries is declining, he pointed to the need to further step up cooperation in the field of transport and the adoption of joint decisions to address existing problems.
He noted that at a time when the volume of freight traffic between other countries is declining, the overall dynamics of Afghanistan bound freight traffic has been showing a steady growth. In particular, in January-June this year, the volume of rail freight traffic from Afghanistan and to Afghanistan amounted to 2.5 million tons, an increase by 50.6 percent compared to 2019.
That is why the international community is showing great interest in infrastructure projects related to the development of transport corridors in Afghanistan. In this regard, the sides discussed in detail the construction of the Trans-Afghan Railway and the effective use of the Iranian Chabahar port within the North-South transport corridor.
The sides also exchanged views on a number of issues related to tapping the transit potential, including tariffs, full use of the truck system to ensure the safety of cargo, the introduction of electronic truck system and the improvement of customs infrastructure at the border.
The parties stressed the need to sign an updated international treaty regulating the solution of existing problems, the creation of favorable conditions for the transportation and transit of goods between the countries. In this regard, the Minister of Roads and Urban Development of Iran Mohammad Islami proposed to establish a special working group between the countries and sign a new agreement regulating relations in the field of transport in order to continue joint projects. The parties agreed to establish a tripartite expert council to draft a new document.
During the talks, the Uzbek side proposed to establish the first motocaravan on the Iran-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan route. The organization of this caravan will provide an opportunity to get an idea of the possible problems along the route and take concrete measures to address them. The proposal was also approved by Afghanistan and Iran. The Iranian side noted that the establishment of a multimodal transport corridor in this route will give a great impetus to the further development of trade and economic relations between the countries. Muhammad Islami also noted that in 2021, the Iranian side will complete the construction and commissioning of a railway from the Chabahar port to the city of Zahedan, which in turn will increase the volume of freight traffic between the countries.
Afghan Transport Minister Yamo Shams expressed readiness to fully support projects aimed at developing transport and transit ties between the countries and elevating cooperation in this area to a new level. He noted that the establishment of the first multimodal motocaravan on the Iran-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan route and the security issues in this process will be fully provided by the Afghan government.