Author: Giuliano Bifolchi
Russia and Azerbaijan discussed the “Green Corridor” project, which might become an alternative trade route to counter Western sanctions and strengthen Moscow-Baku relations in the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea region.
On March 17th, 2022, the Trade Representative of Russia in Azerbaijan, Ruslan Mirsayapov, took part in the meeting of the Deputy Head of the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Ivin, with the business community of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The event was also attended by Javad Gasimov, Deputy Chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Philip Zolotnitsky, Head of the Main Department of the Center for Monitoring and Operational Control of the Federal Customs Service of Russia, Georgy Peschanskikh, representative of the Federal Customs Service of Russia in Azerbaijan, Dilavar Farzaliyev, Head of the International Cooperation Department of the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, and heads and owners of large agro-industrial and transport and logistics companies of Azerbaijan.
The primary purpose of the event, which took place within the framework of the visit of the delegation of the Federal Customs Service of Russia to Azerbaijan, was the presentation of the “Green Corridor”, a pilot project to organise a simplified customs corridor for law-abiding participants in foreign economic activity.
The Federal Customs Service of Russia and the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan will determine the lists of project participants from among authorised economic operators and other participants in foreign economic activity professionally oriented to trade in goods falling under the terms of the Project and characterised by a low level of risk.
When concluding foreign trade contracts between Russian and Azerbaijani participants in the Green Corridor, the customs authorities of the two states will automatically apply simplifications and facilitation of customs formalities to ensure the smooth and accelerated movement of goods to Russia and Azerbaijan.
As Vladimir Ivin stated in his speech, seven Russian authorised economic operators already work permanently with about 100 Azerbaijani companies. These data mean that at least 20% of the products of the Republic of Azerbaijan supplied to Russia can be processed through the “Green Corridor” created by the parties.
According to Ruslan Mirsayapov, Trade Representative of Russia in Azerbaijan, the early launch of the Green Corridor project, along with the timely completion of work on the reconstruction and expansion of the Khanoba (Azerbaijan) and Yarag-Kazmalyar (Russia) automobile checkpoints, an increase in the supply of products using “Agroexpress” will ensure the positive dynamics of the foreign trade turnover between Russia and Azerbaijan.
Why does it matter?
Since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, Europe and the United States have imposed sanctions against the Kremlin to hit the Russian economy (Russian invasion of Ukraine and economy). Western sanctions pushed Russia to find alternative markets and boost economic partnerships with regional and international actors, especially the post-Soviet republics where the Kremlin still aims at extending political and economic influence in the part of the world that the Russians consider its blizhnee zarubezhe (near abroad). In this regard, the “Green Corridor” might become a tool that Moscow will use to increase its trade, import goods and diversify its business trying to contrast Western sanctions’ impact. Furthermore, the “Green Corridor” confirms the Kremlin’s desire to strengthen its diplomatic, political and economic relations with Baku since Azerbaijan has an essential role in the Caucasian dynamics and Brussels’ security energy strategy.
In this context, on March 21st, 2022, the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergey Lavrov, had a telephone conversation with the Azerbaijani Foreign Affairs Minister, Jayhun Bayramov, to discuss a wide range of issues of bilateral relations, including the implementation of the provisions of the agreement signed on February 22nd, 2022. The parties also discussed the implementation of the key provisions of the top-level tripartite agreements of November 9th, 2020, January 11th,2021 and November 26th, 2021, as well as the issue of concluding a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The Russian-Azerbaijani economic and political relations as the Russian-Armenian alliance highlight that, although after the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict Turkey has raised as one of the most significant regional geopolitical actors in the Caucasus, the Russian Federation still maintains its primary role of influence in the region even after the beginning of the Ukraine conflict which has divided the Caucasian public opinion (Ukraine conflict and the Russian influence areas).