ALMATY (Dispatches) --
Kazakhstan wants to handle greater volumes of cargo moving between Russia and Iran, a senior Kazakh official said on Monday, an increasingly important trade route as exchanges grow amid the Ukraine war.
Iran, also targeted by Western sanctions, has become a key ally for Russia, providing it with access to Persian Gulf ports from which Russian goods can reach Asia.
Russia remains Kazakhstan’s biggest trading partner and Deputy Prime Minister Serik Zhumangarin said Astana was keen to boost its transit role in the so-called North-South corridor between Russia and Iran.
Such shipments can either travel via the Caspian Sea or move by railway to the east of it through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, Zhumangarin said at a meeting with Russian officials which presidents Vladimir Putin and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev attended via video link.
“During the first nine months of this year, 80,000 tonnes of cargo have been shipped along this (eastern) route, which is an eightfold increase from last year, although the corridor’s capacity allows of 6 million tonnes of shipments (annually),” Zhumangarin said.
Zhumangarin said reducing red tape and improving infrastructure could streamline cargo flows.
Tokayev met Putin in Moscow on Monday in his first foreign trip since he secured a second term in a snap election on Nov. 20.
Zhumangarin also said Kazakhstan was considering building a third railway crossing on its border with China. The move could be regarded as either positive or negative for Russia, depending on where the added volumes go.
The Central Asian nation is in talks with the European Union about boosting its transit capacity as part of a project to divert China-Europe cargo traffic from Russia to the Caspian and the Caucasus.
$300 Million Deal to Export Iran Cars to Russia
A $300 million memorandum of understanding has been signed for the export of Iran-made cars to Russia, the president of the Association of Homogeneous
Powertrain Industries and Parts Manufacturers said Monday.
So far, 1,000 Iran-made cars have been exported to Venezuela, with more shipments planned in the future given the popularity of automobiles built in Iran in the South American country, Muhammadreza Najafi-Manesh said.
“Russia and Venezuela are two good markets for Iranian car exports, and if the export conditions are met, we can find a suitable position in terms of car exports,” he said.
Najafi-Manesh touched on Iran’s exports of cars to Armenia and Azerbaijan before, saying they show domestically produced cars are of good quality, but for the development of exports, efforts should be made to improve it further.
Iran Khodro, the Middle East’s leading automaker, is eyeing Russia’s large market which the Europeans have abandoned amid the raging Ukraine conflict, an official said in August.
The company’s first exports to Russia occurred notably between 2007 and 2009. Some Iran-made automotive components such as engine cooling systems, suspension and casting parts have been exported to the Russian market in recent years.
Iran’s auto sector has started standing on its own feet after years of reliance on imported car kits which foreign companies stopped supplying when the U.S. reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2018.
Earlier this month, Venezuelan Minister of Transport Ramón Velásquez announced the shipment of 1,000 cars built in Iran to Venezuela, stating that they were among 80,000 requests registered for the products of an Iranian car manufacturer in his country.
With the exports, Iran is staking out a niche in South America’s automotive marketplace which has a lot of space for growth and expansion, given the uneasy relationship of some of the countries of the region with the United States.