S. Zuban’, Representative Office of Federal Customs Service of Russia in Kazakhstan, 34 (116), Auezova Str., Astana, 010000, Republic of Kazakhstan
For a long time, transportation infrastructure of Russian Eastern regions was nearly monopolist in the market of land transcontinental transit services for the cargos supplied from Eastern Asia to Europe. Transit was not seen as a top priority for Russian transport system which was mostly oriented at export deliveries of Russian primary goods to the markets of Asia-Pacific region. As a result, the share of land transcontinental transit from East to West is very low compared to maritime traffic (1–2 per cent of total). Situation changed drastically in 2000–2010s when China and Kazakhstan started to develop transcontinental transport corridor through China’s Western regions and Central Asia to transit goods manufactured in Asia (first of all China itself) to Europe. According to Beijing’s strategy of Silk Road Economic Belt, transportation traffic through Central Asia will be expanding. These changes imply risks that Eastern regions of Russia lose (or already lost) profit linked with transcontinental transit traffic through its territories. The authors analyzed recent customs statistics regarding cargos transited from Asia to Europe through Eastern regions of Russia (Far East and Eastern Siberia) and Kazakhstan. It was found that transcontinental transit through Kazakhstan is already bigger than through Eastern regions of Russia. Main consignor is China for which using land transport system is attractive not only economically but politically as well. Transit traffic through Pacific ports of Russia is mainly provided by cargos from South Korea and Japan mostly delivered not to Europe but to Central Asia. In other words, as of now the two transit channels employ different niches and can expand not at the expense of each other but by attracting a growing part from the maritime traffic. The trend of expanding transportation traffic through Kazakhstan seems to be non-reversible. This becomes a new reality that Russia needs to accept. This demands modernization of its transportation infrastructure and improvement of trans-border procedures in order to maintain and, hopefully, expand transit passing through Russia.
transcontinental transit, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Eurasian Economic Community Customs Union, Silk Road Economic Belt
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