India-Kazakh Transport and Logistics Cooperation Gets New Boost
| Ashok Dixit - 31 Oct 2018

India-Kazakh Transport and Logistics Cooperation Gets New Boost

 

By Ashok Dixit

New Delhi, Nov.1, 2018: Logistics and transportation bilateral cooperation and capability between India and Kazakhstan has received a major boost through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked between JSC Kazakhstan Temir Zholy Express (KTZ) and Indian logistics company Tuberose Logistics here.

The MoU was signed during a day-long Kazakh-India business round table event where a majority of the participants emphasized the need for both countries to take advantage of the upcoming North-South international transit corridor that will eventually pass through four countries i.e. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and India. Dias Iskakov, President of KTZ Express, and V. Jhunjharia of Tuberose Logistics signed the MoU.

Speaking on the occasion, Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to India Bulat Sarsenbayev said Kazakhstan and India have enjoyed a bilateral diplomatic relationship at the highest levels for the last 26 years.

“It is a relationship that has flourished at the highest levels without political issues. Our President (Nursultan Nazarbayev) has visited India five times and your Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, has visited Kazakhstan seven times. The intensity of contacts between our two countries has increased with time. There is a high level of political trust between our two governments and leadership, and, this is reflected in the presence of over 100 Kazakh soldiers in an Indian military contingent that is currently on UN peacekeeping deployment and duty in Lebanon.”

“Trade, economic and investment cooperation are in focus now more than ever through various mechanisms. We have had twelve meetings; we have joint working groups in trade and economics, textiles, space, information technology and military technical cooperation. Two more JWGs – one in health and pharmaceuticals, and the second, in transport and logistics, are in the pipeline. We have had a Kazakhstan-India Business Council that has been active for the last two years. Kazakhstan and India are also actively cooperating in the banking sector where Punjab National Bank is a major partner,” he added.

Civil aviation was another key sector where both countries have been cooperating for long, Ambassador Sarsenbayev said, adding that currently his country’s national carrier – Air Astana -- has 11 flights going every week from and to India (Nine to Almaty and two to capital Astana). He said that in all probability, private airline Spice Jet would also be starting flight operations to Kazakhstan from January 1, 2019, on all seven days of the week.

Mr. Iskakov informed participants during the roundtable that KTZ Express has emerged as a “one-stop shop” in Eurasia for transportation, logistics and container services, with a focus on China, Europe, the Trans-Caspian Sea Route and the North-South Transportation and Logistics Corridor. He said that his multi-nodal company has so far invested 30 billion USD in transport and logistics, and by 2020, an additional 8.4 billion USD would be invested.

He also talked about the synergy that exists between Kazakhstan’s Nur Zholy economic behemoth and China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative in terms of a transit development strategy.

“India is one of the key areas of the North-South Transport Corridor Project,” adding, “We expect two million TU worth of shipments by 2020”.

Mr. Manish Prabhat, Joint Secretary (Eurasia) in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said, “There is a lot of desire from the Indian side to make approaches to and in Central Asia. What is holding us back currently is the poor level of connectivity. We are in constant touch with the Kazakh side on these issues. There is considerable goodwill between our two countries and there is no lack of effort to integrate India with Central Asia. Respect for sovereignty is essential for progress and realisation of Eurasia-India economic and trade ties. It is our estimate that there exists a potential per annum revenue earning capacity of between 27 and 64 billion dollars between Eurasia and India. The North-South Transport and Logistics Corridor can unleash this potential further.”

“We want more people and organisations to participate in this project, or come forward with their ideas and experiences; tell us about existing bottlenecks so that we can address them one by one,” he added.

The round-table was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, railways and freight traffic, the Ministry of External Affairs, the management of the seaports of Mumbai, Kolkata, Mudra and Chennai, the Association of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Indian importers and others.

The writer Ashok Dixit is a senior journalist with 24 years of rich cross-editorial functional experience in covering and reporting on developments in South Asia. He had been associated with ANI as a Senior Editor for more than two decades. He can be contacted at  ashok.dixit26@gmail.com


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