KURYK, Kazakhstan – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev presented on Saturday the Kuryk multimodal port, a key infrastructure for development across the Caspian Sea of the New Silk Road, the transport corridor between Asia and Europe.
“It is a historic project that will have a multiplier effect for the economy of Kazakhstan and for the countries of the region,” said the head of state at a formal ceremony held at the port facilities.
The Kazakh leader stressed the strategic importance for his country, the ninth largest in the world, of the development of its transport network as a bridge between Asia and Europe.
Kazakhstan, he added, built 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) of rail and 12,000 kilometers of roads to enable the transport corridor promoted by China.
“By 2020, Kazakhstan will begin to receive $5 billion per year for transport services,” said Nazarbayev, who assured that the revenue will allow a rapid return on investment.
He added that the fully operational Kuryk port as a center of multimodal transport operations will also give a powerful boost to the Mangystau region’s economy as it will create 20,000 permanent jobs.
All these efforts, said Nazarbayev, are part of the 20-30 strategy, which aims to place Kazakhstan among the 30 best economies in the world by the year 2020.
The Kazakh president highlighted as “symbolic” the fact that the inauguration of the Kuryk port takes place on the eve of the 5th Caspian Sea Summit, to be held on Sunday in the city of Aktau, until recently Kazakhstan’s only port.
At this meeting, the leaders of the five Caspian Sea countries (Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan), are expected to sign a convention on the body of water’s legal status.
“In the last 20 years we have held negotiations, which have been complex, and reconciled our positions to resolve all matters relating to our common activity on the Caspian,” said Nazarbayev.
He added that he considers that everything has been agreed for Sunday’s summit in Aktau.
“We are confident that tomorrow a historic step will be taken, it will be a very important moment for all of us,” said the Kazakh president.
Located 70 kilometers south of Aktau, Kuryk consists of 67 hectares of land in a sheltered bay that allows it to operate throughout the year.
The new port facility, with the capacity to receive and dispatch up to 86 ferries daily, has a dual purpose: to increase Kazakh trade with the other four countries bordering the Caspian Sea and to give a powerful boost to transit services in the region.
According to official data, in the last 10 years Kazakhstan has invested $30 billion in infrastructure to set up transport corridors between Asia and Europe, through both Russia and Azerbaijan.
Both the new Kuryk port facilities and the Aktau port will serve as a transit point for US military cargo bound for Afghanistan.