Building on the momentum of recent talks in Turkmenistan regarding the use of TIR along the Lapis Lazuli corridor, the first TIR pilot set off from Herat, in Afghanistan today.
Under the TIR guarantee, it will transit Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia, with four trucks bound for Mersin in Turkey, and a further five to be shipped to China via Istanbul. The transport operator will subsequently carry return cargo from Turkey to Afghanistan via Iran under TIR.
An official inauguration ceremony attended by Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan, and high ranking officials from the TIR contracting parties launched the operation.
The development reinforces Afghanistan’s role as a critical TIR country, knitting together a web of new trade opportunities between Turkey, Eurasia and eventually China.
The Lapis Lazuli Corridor begins in Aqina in northern Faryab province and Torghundi in western Herat, Afghanistan, and continues to the port on the Caspian Sea of Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan; after passing the Caspian Sea, the route continues on to Baku, Azerbaijan, and then connects onward to Tbilisi, Georgia, as well as the Georgian ports of Poti and Batumi; finally, the corridor connects to the cities of Kars, Mersin and Istanbul, Turkey, at the entrance of Europe.
The name “Lapis Lazuli” is derived from the historic route that Afghanistan’s lapis lazuli and other semi-precious stones were exported along, over 2,000 years ago, to the Caucasus, Russia, the Balkans, Europe, and North Africa.