Afghanistan to send a trial batch of cargo via the Lapis lazuli corridor to Europe
31 August 2018

   Two experimental shipments in the near future will be sent from Afghanistan to Europe through Lapis Lazuli corridor, announced on Monday the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Multi-modal track with the length of over 3000 km connects the Afghan dry ports of Aqina and Torghundi in transit via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey with the Black Sea Bosphorus Strait and the transport network of the EU. Afghanistan expects to use the corridor to export its products to European markets, such as saffron, carpets and medicinal plants. According to the head of the Department of economic cooperation of the foreign ministry of IRA Hassan Surosh, execution plan for the Lapis Lazuli route would be finalized with the concerned countries in the next two weeks. Two agreements would also be signed on visa and railway with the countries, the official said. The agreement on the creation of a Lapis lazuli corridor was signed in November last year in Ashgabat on the sidelines of the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VII). The Asian Development Bank has allocated US$ 130 million for the corridor project. Turkmenistan, being the first transit country under the project, made a significant contribution to the implementation of the project and the integration of the neighboring country into the transport and logistics system of Eurasia. In particular, in November 2016, the transport connectivity between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan was added with a new railway line Aqina-Imamnazar-Kerki, and in February this year, the Turkmen railway workers completed overall upgrade of the Serkhetabat-Torghundi line. According to a recent study by the Ministry of Commerce and industry of Afghanistan, transit through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey by road and rail is a viable route for trade with the EU, the Balkans and Eastern Europe.