International relations of Astrakhan region with the Caspian Sea countries and the CIS

The Caspian states are the main partners of Astrakhan region in the field of international cooperation.

According to customs statistics, the foreign trade turnover of Astrakhan region with the Caspian countries in 2020 amounted to 551.5 million US dollars with an increase of 70.4%.

Goods worth 283.1 million US dollars were sent for export to the Caspian countries.

The basis of the export of Astrakhan region to the countries of the Caspian region was cereals and lumber. In addition, Astrakhan potatoes, onions, carrots, lamb meat and live sheep, fish products, as well as rubber shoes and clothing were supplied to neighbors in the Caspian Sea.

Imports amounted to 268.4 million US dollars. Floating structures, fruits and nuts, salt, sulfur, and Portland cement were imported to Astrakhan region from the Caspian countries.

Also, according to the results of last year, the cargo turnover also increased. It amounted to more than 3 million tons of cargo with an increase of 15.2 %.

The Government of Astrakhan Region has built trusting, friendly relations with all partners in the Caspian Sea, as well as with a number of CIS countries. Astrakhan region actively cooperates with the governments of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, as well as the border regions of Kazakhstan and the Iranian provinces.

The opening of consular offices of Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in Astrakhan is a recognition of the political significance and special role of Astrakhan Region in the Caspian region.

In recent years, many joint projects have been implemented with the Caspian states.

Iranian Trading House and Azerbaijani Business Center have been opened in Astrakhan, and a branch of Iranian bank is operating. Companies from Azerbaijan and Iran are registered as residents in the SEZ "Lotos". Our partners from the Caspian countries invest in the development of regional port infrastructure and industry, create logistics centers, and also participate in foreign economic activities.

Humanitarian projects are being successfully implemented. A school was built at the expense of Turkmenistan in the village of Funtovo in Privolzhsky district. By joint efforts with Kazakhstan, the Kurmangazy Regional Cultural Center was opened in the village of Altynzhar in Volodarsky district. The Heydar Aliyev Foundation has reconstructed city school No. 11, built a kindergarten and a friendship bridge, and erected a monument to the baptist of Russia, Knyaz Vladimir.

Astrakhan is decorated with monuments to public and cultural figures of the peoples of the Caspian countries: Makhtumkuli Fragi, Kurmangazy Sagyrbayev, Omar Khayyam, Heydar Aliyev. All of them were donated to our region.

Astrakhan-based universities have established close contacts with partners in all the Caspian States and the CIS. Currently, more than 6.5 thousand foreign citizens receive higher and secondary education in Astrakhan region, 4 thousand of them are from the Caspian countries.

Much attention is being paid to cooperation in tourism. Cruise tourism can be a promising integration project in the Caspian Sea. The Government of Astrakhan region is thoroughly discussing this project with the colleagues from the Caspian States.

A great number of all-Caspian events have received permanent registration in Astrakhan. Trade and industrial exhibitions of the Caspian countries, meetings of the Caspian Expert Club, Caspian Media Forum, Caspian Fashion Week and many others are held on a regular basis.

One of the main areas of cooperation with Turkmenistan is shipbuilding. At one time, it brought orders to Astrakhan enterprises in the amount of 750 million USD. Astrakhan shipyards are ready to build dry cargo ships, container ships, ferries and other types of vessels. The second track is trade and logistics. To ensure the development of the transport sector, Turkmenistan’s leadership made a decision to intensify sea transportation to Russia through Astrakhan region. In this regard, work is currently underway to set up logistics center of Turkmenistan in Astrakhan region. Goods coming to Astrakhan, will undergo customs clearance and warehousing. With a regular sea connection in operation and a logistics center will contribute to the formation of additional cargo traffic along the North-South corridor and the loading of transport and logistics capacities of Astrakhan region.

In the course of contacts with Azerbaijani partners, special attention is being paid to the development of railway cargo transportation through the logistics hub of the Kutum station in Astrakhan. Within the framework of the North-South corridor, goods in this direction come to us from Azerbaijan, as well as Iran and Turkey. In the future – India and Pakistan. To implement this project, a major Azerbaijani investor has been attracted to the region, having established a logistics complex in Astrakhan, allowing for handling of more than 2 million tons of cargo per year.

Contacts with our Iranian colleagues are no less actively maintained. The main areas of cooperation are the development of mutual trade and increasing cargo turnover. A test container line was launched in December, 2020. This is the first step in the organization of regular container transportation between Astrakhan and Iran, the lack of which previously hindered the development of the North-South corridor. An important event of the year 2020 was the opening of the representative office of the Russian-Iranian Business Council at the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in our region. The representative office provides support to entrepreneurs in promoting goods and services to the markets of our countries. The issues of attracting investments from Iran to local industry and agriculture are being discussed. The Iranian business is willing to continue investing in the development of the port infrastructure of Astrakhan region, and is looking into the possibility of building ships for its own container transportation at Astrakhan enterprises.

Bilateral cooperation with Kazakhstan is actively developing, friendly relations are traditionally focused on border territories. Food and light industry products are supplied from Astrakhan region to the Kazakh regions. Projects in the field of shipbuilding are being implemented. At the end of April, Astrakhan shipbuilders completed the construction of two dredgers for Kazakhstan and lots of work is ongoing for this track.

Within the framework of strengthening cooperation with the CIS countries, in addition to developing ties with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, mutually beneficial contacts are maintained with the Republic of Belarus, Uzbekistan and the Republic of Moldova.

Cooperation with Belarusian partners is carried out within the framework of the Joint Action Program with the Government of the Republic of Belarus. The products of Astrakhan agricultural producers, including fish and early potatoes, are supplied to the Belarusian market. To service Belarusian agricultural machinery, which is widely used by Astrakhan farmers, a specialized center of the Minsk Tractor Plant is planned to be opened in Astrakhan. Fairs of Belarusian goods are regularly held in Astrakhan. Supplies of household appliances, furniture, shoes, textile products and food have been established from Belarus to the Astrakhan market.

A partnership agreement with the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan is ready for signing. The agreement will contribute to the activation of bilateral ties in the field of trade, industrial cooperation and humanitarian cooperation. A landmark event was the opening in 2020 of a branch of Astrakhan State Technical University in Tashkent, which began to train fishing industry specialists for this country.

In June 2021, on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, an Agreement was signed between the Government of Astrakhan region and the Executive Committee of ATU Gagauzia of the Republic of Moldova on trade-economic, scientific-technical and humanitarian-cultural cooperation. The main area of ​​interaction will be the development of ties in the agro-industrial complex. Given the similarity of the climatic conditions of Astrakhan region and Gagauzia, the Astrakhan farmers are ready to study the possibility of organizing the supply of young plants of selection varieties of fruit trees and shrubs from Moldovan region, as well as they are interested in the exchange of technologies for their cultivation. In turn, Astrakhan residents are ready to share best practices in the field of fish farming and commercial aquaculture, to assist in the training and advanced training of Moldovan ichthyologists, ecologists and technologists on the basis of Astrakhan scientific and educational institutions, as well as fish hatcheries.