Located at the crossroads of the modern Silk Road, which is being revitalized by China, Turkey has accelerated its efforts to build logistics centers that may handle trade flow worth over $2 trillion.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan said nine of the 21 planned logistics centers are now operational. "We have completed the logistics centers in Mersin, Konya and Kayacık. The Kars logistics center is under construction. The remaining eight are in the tender, project and expropriation stages," he added.
Speaking to the Turkish language daily, Sabah, Turhan shared the latest updates on the modern Silk Road, which is under construction as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Turhan pointed out that there are three main corridors between Asia and Europe, namely east-west, north-south, and middle.
"The middle corridor, which will connect Central Asia and the Caspian region to Europe via Turkey starting from China, is of great importance as a continuation of the historical Silk Road," Minister Turhan said. "The middle corridor starts from China, reaches Turkey via Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, and connects to Europe from here. Within this picture, the Silk Road route, which historically links Europe and Asia, has regained its importance, and the People's Republic of China, a front-runner to become a new superpower, has initiated a very significant opening toward the modern Silk Road," he added.
Daily trade volume expected to reach $2 billionTurhan said the central axis of Turkey's transportation policies was shaped to provide an uninterrupted line from China to London.
"The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway line, which was opened last year, is also vital as an infrastructure that connects all roads reaching from Central Asia and China to our country. This project does not connect only three countries, but links Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and China to one other," he further stressed.
"An 829-kilometer railway line from Baku to Kars completes a crucial part of the central corridor line crossing the Caspian. However, the importance of this project will be better understood in the coming years. Because the daily trade volume between China and Europe today has reached $1.5 billion. This trade flow is expected to continue to increase and exceed $2 billion per day in five to six years," Turhan said.
In this context, he said it is of great importance to finish the roads that are complementary to the operation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway line at full capacity. He added that they increase the benefits and importance of this corridor with mega projects such as the Marmaray, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, North Marmara Motorway and Eurasia Tunnel, Osmangazi Bridge, high-speed train lines, North Aegean Port, Gebze Orhangazi-İzmir Motorway, Çanakkale 1915 Bridge and Istanbul Airport.
Turhan said they started to establish logistics villages to meet the future transportation demand from Anatolia, the Caucasus, Central Asia and China.
"I believe that any investment we make in the logistics sector will make each of our countries, located at the crossroads of east-west and north-south goods flow with a potential exceeding $2 trillion, an effective logistics base," he said.
Minister Turhan stressed that the new Silk Road, which passes through a total of 10 states, has a surface area of more than 4,395 kilometers within the borders of China and over 109,000 kilometers in the countries positioned on the route, adding it covers over 40 million square kilometers in more than 60 countries in Eastern, Central and Western Asia, and Central, Southern and Western Europe.
"These figures account for 26 percent of the world's surface area and 63 percent of the world's population with 4.4 billion. It also makes up 29 percent of the world economy, which reveals why China's Belt and Road Initiative is so important for Turkey," he said.