The Eurasian interlocutor is confident that Kazakhstan will be able to find new routes for transit and export of goods even under current difficult conditions 2022 from the very beginning became difficult for Kazakhstan. The tragic events of January and the worsening political situation abroad have greatly affected economic development, creating new risks for it. Among them are logistical risks: Kazakhstan is actively developing transit potential in order to earn money by transporting goods from China to Europe and Central Asia. The closure of the Ukrainian land route and restrictions on shipments from Russian seaports make logistic market participants adapt and look for new routes. We have talked about this transformation with Shingys Tuleushin, CEO of PTC Cargo, which specializes in container transport. The Eurasian interlocutor spoke about the current trends in logistics and development of the most modern in Kazakhstan railway terminal «Dostyk Trans Terminal». – Shingys Amanbaevich, PTC Cargo started operations in the middle of last year. What has been done so far and what is your focus now? – Yes, we started our work in mid-2021 as an international agent and container train operator, and at the end of the same year we went into export operations. We are already forming our own container trains, managing the railway terminal «Dostyk Trans Terminal» on the border with China. A total of 35,000 containers were shipped through it – a good enough result for a partial year of work. Now our task is to immerse ourselves in the market, to increase competence in their services and expand them without losing quality. – 2022 started hard for the whole country. How did your company survive the tragic events of January? – Indeed, the January events have had a major impact on the socio-political and economic situation in Kazakhstan. Many businesses and companies have faced limitations in their operations. But our company has not been affected by these events. It is all about the specifics of the industry: we are engaged in the transit of goods from China to Europe through the territory of Kazakhstan, and therefore what happened to them did not affect. We fulfilled all the planned volumes, there were no container trains delays, trains were accepted at the terminal «Dostyk» without stops and delays. As far as export transport is concerned, we have moved them for a while. Fortunately for all of us, the volatile situation did not last long, and all volumes were completed without significant delays for senders. – Quickly escalated the situation around Ukraine. Did it affect the work of your company? – Here I can mention two things – financial and logistical. The first relates to the recent weakening of Tenge to foreign currencies. In the direction of «China – Europe» the main customer at us is the Chinese side, and then all transactions take place in foreign currency. We are protected from currency risks. The second point is much wider. Yes, in general, land transport from China to Europe does not stop. But there is a factor that military actions are taking place near the route. Because of this, customers reduce the number of orders, and we see a trend to reduce their volume. It is too early to sum up, but we see a decline around 10-15%, and the trend remains. All orders are executed by us. There were also problems with the port of Kaliningrad, where previously the cargo was reloaded from the railway to the sea routes to Europe. We had transport, which was performed through Ukraine, but now they stopped. Because of this, we lost part of the income. As for transit through Russia and Belarus, transport is possible only through Brest and a few small border crossings. Kaliningrad, as I said earlier, is closed to us. – Can one Brest handle all the volume? – Most likely not. If the volumes are the same as last year, we will not be able to carry them through Brest. Therefore, the important task now is for our railway administration and the relevant ministry to hold negotiations with «Russian Railways» about the possibility of agreeing new routes. For example, to send cargo to ports in the Baltic States. Now, as far as I know, this issue is already discussed. Baltic ports are ready to receive our cargo. This was recently confirmed at a meeting with the Minister of Transport of Latvia. They are willing to accept shipments, and this is an opportunity for us to maintain the volume of shipments. If the route goes to the Baltic States, there will be no colossal changes in terms of delivery. They have good, modern client-oriented ports with developed online systems. – How does the current situation change your company’s plans for 2022? – We planned to bet on the Ukrainian route as an alternative to the Russian direction, making there its own service for customers. Unfortunately, we can not yet transit through Ukraine, Poland and further to Europe. And so we try to look for alternatives. Russia has restrictions on shipping goods from its seaports. Because of this, what used to go by sea can now go by land. For example, from Siberia now shipment to China can go through our terminal «Dostyk Trans Terminal». It is beneficial to both senders and us. The prospects of the Trans-Caspian transport route are getting better. Measures are already being taken to increase the bandwidth and improve the service, the ability to accept the growing flow. As far as I know, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia even plan to create a company at the state level that will improve the route. It is necessary to use this opportunity: the cargoes that used to go through Russia, now can go on the Trans-Caspian transport route, and then on the sea to Europe. Now «ball» on the side of logistists. The infrastructure in Ukraine is destroyed and will be restored for a long time, flows through Belarus are already loaded. Therefore, new alternative routes are important for us. – Earlier you mentioned the terminal «Dostyk Trans Terminal». Why does Kazakhstan need it, and is there a demand for its services? – The terminal on the Kazakh-Chinese border worked last year. The first stage of the terminal is already working, we expect the second to be launched in May. The terminal tranships container trains, provides services on train consolidation, container repair, offers agency services. Now there is almost the entire range of services required in transit. The second stage will increase the cargo handling capacity. We set ourselves the task of increasing the loading of the terminal and using its full potential. In January, we have already formed 30 trains of our own container trains, increasing the figure by three times compared to last year. The special feature of the terminal is its 1150 m long platform. It allows the formation and grouping of container trains, for example, combining two trains into one. With the launch of Phase 2, we will be able to handle 10 container trains per day instead of the current five. Now we work out different transport schemes from China to Europe and back, from China to Moscow and Tashkent. We see the potential for growth and are ready to accept new customer flows. At the moment «Dostyk Trans Terminal» is the only automated terminal on the border of Kazakhstan. We use new technologies to provide faster services to our customers and to serve more cargo. It can be said that the appearance of «Dostyk» helped to increase the transit potential of Kazakhstan and to solve some of the problems with cargo delays at the border and the quality of service in the field of logistics. We strive to provide the best service for our customers and are constantly developing in this direction. Article reference: EU-14-KZ-7 (1)

Over the past five years, Kazakhstan’s railways have repeatedly recorded explosive growth in container transit. Recently, however, this momentum has slowed down owing to world events. At the international exhibition «TransRussia» the correspondent of RZD-Partner asked the managing director for the development of PTC Holding company Olzhas Arykbayev about the further prospects of containerization growth in the former Union Republic, and whether Kazakhstan is ready to serve as a transit hub for Russia.

– Did the positive dynamics with container transportation in Kazakhstan somehow drift away due to the geopolitical situation?

– Container transport in Kazakhstan is mainly transit, which is caused and stimulated by the geographical situation of our country. However, the level of containerization within the republic is very low. For the most part, shippers prefer to ship their cargo in a universal fleet – covered wagons. This is due to the tariff policy of the company «Kazakhstan temir zholy», which does not always promise benefits to shippers, which, unfortunately, have no incentives to switch to containers. In comparison with Russia, RZD introduce discounts, temporary reduction factors and thus make shippers think about the need to create an appropriate infrastructure at the place of dispatch, so that goods can be containerized and exported. In Kazakhstan, everything is confined to transit. Art. Dostyk – the shortest shoulder of transportation from China to Europe and back. Accordingly, this border crossing is actively used in Kazakhstan. All container trains on this route are operated by the United Transport Logistics Company (OTLC). Under sanctions pressure, Chinese shippers see certain fears and risks in continuing to carry their usual goods overland, as they will pass through the territory of the Russian Federation and in the vicinity of the special operation zone. In other words, there was a shift to the sea, which is much more expensive today, if we talk about the delivery of goods to Europe. This, according to our observations, has led to a temporary decrease in the transit container traffic on the China-Europe-China route.

– In that sense, does your company have any predictions for the near future?

– On the eve of the exhibition «TransRussia» we held negotiations with our partners from OTLC. They assume that all the existing difficulties are temporary, that the volume of freight transport is bound to recover, and then we all return to, shall we say, the old rails. Shippers don’t sit still anyway. Kazakhstan’s railways are also looking for new opportunities to bypass the territories under sanctions. In particular, there is the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TMT). It implies an overload on Art. Altynkol in Kazakhstan, arrival at the ports of the Caspian Sea – Kuryk or Aktau, loading and unloading there, sailing on a ship to Baku with subsequent trans-shipment on rolling stock, then – to the Georgian port of Poti, regular loading andUnloading operations with further shipment to the Romanian port, from where the goods are already entering Europe. Given the required volume of operations, the route is much more expensive than traditional. Recently, an important meeting was held at the level of the State authorities of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia, where the issue of establishing a joint enterprise to become a cargo transport operator on the mentioned route and to provide favourable tariff conditions, to make the price look competitive in comparison with other routes, and TMT itself was interesting to the shipper.

– But the above-mentioned route is unlikely to take on all the necessary volume of cargo…

– Of course, there are also certain bottlenecks. When this issue began to be raised at the top, it became clear that ports still could not handle more than a certain volume of containers, and Azerbaijan has its own difficulties. In order to expand these bottlenecks, it is necessary to attract investment there. Most likely, these funds will have to be provided by States or by large transnational companies. But there is uncertainty: what will happen in the world in 2-3 years? If during this time the situation will normalize and return to the old rule, and the companies will again start to ride the usual route through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and from there go to Europe, then the funds invested in TMM will be in vain and will not pay off. Of course, this will block the project.

– At a business seminar held recently by RZD-Partner, one of the experts claimed that Kazakhstan will not be able to become a transit hub for Russia. Do you agree with that?

– On the contrary, according to our company, Kazakhstan is already such a hub for the Russian Federation, having managed to drag on a large cargo flow and trying to profitably use its geographical position. But the state needs to continue to develop its capacity in terms of warehouse logistics to process the necessary volume of cargo. Within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, it is possible to import goods to Kazakhstan, import them and distribute them within other countries. The current legislation allows this. But there are other issues. Sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation are followed by retaliatory sanctions. And there is a list of goods that cannot be imported into the territory of Russia. A special mobile unit was responsible for verifying whether or not the goods were covered by the sanctions. All these difficulties are directly related to the risks for business. In addition, the list of products can be added and narrowed. Accordingly, today the cargo can go through Kazakhstan in the direction of Russia, and tomorrow at the border suddenly there will be difficulties and business will suffer losses. As for the railway infrastructure, the majority of it belongs to the company «Kazakhstan temir zholy». Recently, there is state support for private business, which boldly invests in infrastructure and is actively developing. In particular, on the St. There are also private terminals.

We are no exception. In 2021, our subsidiary PTC Cargo on its own funds launched there Dostyk TransTerminal, designed for transhipment of cargo and containers from 1,435 mm gauge (China) to 1,520 mm gauge (Kazakhstan), as well as for processing, storage, repair, formation of block container trains passing through the border crossing Dostyk – Alashankou. The annual production capacity of this terminal is 160 thousand. containers in 20-foot equivalent. Public and private transport and logistics centres in Nur-Sultan and Almaty are equally successful. In addition, Kazakhstan is ready to implement a number of projects in the border area with the People’s Republic of China – on the trans-shipment of grain, potassium fertilizers, etc. But it is important to understand what plans China itself adheres to, which is now working more actively in the direction of its ports.

– What are the priorities of PTC Holding?

– We are primarily focused on the development of container transport. We are actively negotiating with international transport and logistics companies in order to get the desired cargo flow. But so far we see a decline in volumes. And this is not the problem of our company, but of the whole market, not only in Kazakhstan, but also in Russia. Historically established supply chains are today forced to reconsider, which is why logistics is experiencing a new round of its existence. And it’s impossible to predict where she’s going.

– Finally, how do Kazakhstan and Russia benefit from each other in terms of supply?

– We have many partners from among Russian transport companies. The territories of both countries are large, and each of the parties is trying to give each other some opportunities to build business and earn money. If we talk about the nomenclatures of goods, then everything is traditional, without obvious innovations. In particular, oil products, sawnwood and other «rolled» products are transported from Russia through Kazakhstan to neighboring countries. We conduct our own freight analysis, monitor all trends that occur in the basket of goods, and on this basis make the necessary decisions.


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