Istanbul, Turkey (PortSEurope) November 29, 2019 – Today is the second and last day of the 4th International Silk Road Businessmen Summit in Trabzon, November 27-29, 2019. This year, 42 countries were invited for the summit.
The event aims to identify and eliminate the obstacles to the development of trade and investments along the new Silk Road and between Black Sea and Caspian Basin countries, to develop trade and investment relations among the countries of the region and events designed for establishing new cooperation among businessmen of the region.
The new Silk Road (part of the Belt and Road initiative, BRI, also known as One Belt, One Road, or OBOR) is a Chinese economic strategy to seek better access for Chinese-made products in European markets, which includes acquiring stakes in ports and other transport facilities, and cooperation agreements with countries along the Silk Road routes.
Ismail Gulle, chairman of Turkish Exporters’ Assembly, said in a speech that Turkey has become an important stop in the new Silk Road saying, “The Middle Corridor in which Turkey is located turns out to be the most strategic field in order to revive the ancient Silk Road”, adding that the amount of investments to build this corridor, promoted by the Turkish government, is estimated at some $8 trillion
The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), also known as the Middle Corridor, combines the countries participating in the new Silk Road project and important players of the region. Its members are leading maritime and transport companies from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, China and Turkey. The organisation aims to popularise the middle corridor, accelerate and simplify cargo transportation procedures between Asia and Europe, and make special preferential tariffs. Between East and West, in terms of cargo, the middle corridor helps to compete with the north-south routes.
TITR allows European companies to bypass Russia, which until now sanctions the transit of certain types of goods through the country. A number of Russian entities are under sanctions from the international community following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014. The importance of this route was underlined with the inclusion of Georgia and Azerbaijan in the European Union (EU) TEN-T network.
Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said that Turkey was in the process of recovering from a recession triggered by a currency crisis in the summer of 2018 amid tensions with the US, and its future looks positive.
Experts underlined the increasing cooperation between China and Turkey in recent years under the framework of the BRI, which aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Africa and Europe along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.
“This summit is very much in line with the spirit of the Silk Road and the BRI, which is all about to promote interregional connectivity in general and in the Black Sea region in particular,” said Altay Atli, an expert on international political economy of Istanbul Koc University.
The Turkish government is eager to promote the potential of the Black Sea basin and underline its future importance under the BRI, Atli said.
Experts believe that Turkey, a gateway to Europe from the Middle East, is an important country of geostrategic and geopolitical importance to promote the connectivity which is at the core of the new Silk Road.
The first freight train traveling from China in Asia to Europe via Istanbul in early November is considered a landmark move to generate trade between the two continents using a railway, in addition to the already existing maritime routes.
Atli said that 2020 will be a year of “take-off” in regard to implementing new Silk Road projects between Turkey and China, which have reached many agreements in the field. “BRI for Turkey is about expectations. Turkey seeks ways to benefit from the initiative by diversifying its trade and attracting investments for infrastructure and logistics projects,” said Atli.
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