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Baku Hosts 1520 Strategic Partnership: the Caspian Region Business Forum.

On November 25, 2016, the International Rail Business Forum 1520 Strategic Partnership: the Caspian Region was opened with a plenary discussion Caspian Transit. Connecting the Four Corners of the Earth.

Among the participants of the session were Abid Sharifov, Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan. He delivered a welcome address on behalf of Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan Republic. Abid Sharifov noted that the country's leadership paid special attention to the development of transport infrastructure. In recent years, some 25 billion dollars have been invested in the sphere.

The key discussion topic of the forum was the development of the North–South International Transport Corridor (North–South ITC). According to Hossein Achouri, Deputy CEO and the Member of the Board of the Iranian Railways, the implementation of the North–South ITC will allow reducing a delivery term and the cost of transportation by 40% and 30% respectively.

Aleksandr Misharin, First Vice-President of JSCo RZD, informed, that in 2016, total rail traffic between Russia and Iran was increased by 43%. He also noted that an important step was signing of a tripartite agreement for the development of the North-South International Transport Corridor (North–South ITC) between Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan. “We are now amid intense competition with alternative routes and need new solutions to respond to current global challenges. Their efficiency will be crucial for the Caspian Region in the system of European transportation lines”, Aleksandr Misharin said.

Javid Gurbanov, Chairman of CJSC Azerbaijan Railways, pointed out that the North–South ITC was one of priority projects for the country. “It is the most optimal and economically efficient cargo transportation rout compared to other routs of this direction”, he said.

According to Oleg Siyenko, Head of JSC Scientific Production Corporation Uralvagonzavod, the North–South ITC will be the most successful transit project in the region and in the world.

The moderator was Yermolay Solzhenitsyn, Senior Partner of McKinsey@Company.

The plenary session was followed by a panel discussion Infrastructure. How to railroad together. Experts discussed the most optimal funding models for the North–South ITC and the possibilities of international cooperation in the construction of railway infrastructure. Ivana Duarte, Head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development of Infrastructure of Azerbaijan expressed willingness of the Bank to participate in financing of the North–South ITC project. “It is, certainly, difficult to finance the whole project, but partial financing is possible”, she said and added that the Bank actively financed transport projects of the CIS and other countries.

The business programme also included a panel discussion Multimodal and Railway Transportations. Faster and Cheaper, that was focused on the development of multimodal container transportation market, as well as building and financing high-tech transportation infrastructure facilities. Gennadiy Bessonov, Secretary General of Coordinating Council on Transsiberian Transportation, stressed the importance of the development of the North–South International Transport Corridor. “The most important thing in cargo transportation is working out the technology”, he said. According to Eriks Smuksts, Chairman of the Board and Vice President of Latvian Railways, the most important task is to find a cargo base.

The Forum was finished with a panel discussion Engineering. How to Drive Steady Demand. The participants discussed the ways to guarantee smooth logistics for all types of cargoes, as well as operation and maintenance of railway equipment in the context of international communication. Andrey Shlyonsky, Deputy CEO for Rail Equipment of Uralvagonzavod, talked about the development of export capacity through cooperation within the North–South ITC countries, integration into large-scale international transport projects, and state export support of Russian engineering products. Victor Tissen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Transmash, noted the importance of long-term planning. According to him, the way public authorities and client organizations plan their activity determine the state of commercial enterprises, in particular, engineering organizations. Innovative development, foreign product localization and sales of products with a life limit, innovative production, maintenance and utilization also play an important role.

The International Rail Business Forum 1520 Strategic Partnership: the Caspian Region was attended by 174 delegates from 14 countries and 94 companies. Six agreements on cooperation were signed. 51 journalists from 39 media outlets covered the work of the Forum.

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International Rail Business Forum 1520 Strategic Partnership is a unique platform for working together to find effective solutions to the most pressing issues faced by the rail sector that affect each and every player on the transportation market: industrial enterprises, transport and logistics companies, rail carriage and locomotive manufacturers, and small and medium-sized businesses. The event’s business agenda includes over 20 discussion and interactive participation formats. It is attended by around 1400 experts from more than 30 countries. The audience is made up of leading transport companies from Russia, the CIS and the European Union. Major international agreements on the strategic development of the 1520 Space, as well as contracts for the supply and maintenance of railway equipment are signed at the Forum every year.

General Forum Partner – JSC Russian Railways.
Organizer – LLC Business Dialogue.

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