Kazakhstan 2017 | TRANSPORT | COLUMN

TBY talks to Hicham Belmaachi, Chief Operating Officer, Management Company SEZ Khorgos East Gate, on the sector.

Hicham Belmaachi

How has the SEZ Khorgos East Gate project progressed since its launch in 2015?

The SEZ is now completed and is divided into three areas. The first is the dry port called Khorgos Gateway, which is where the railway comes in from China and links up with the Kazakhstani railway. The second area is a logistics zone with warehousing, while the third area is an industrial zone. Khorgos Gateway began operating in July 2015 as the railway was ready and we were able to do the basics of transshipment between the Chinese and Kazakhstani railways. Now the entire SEZ is fully prepared to operate with increased volumes.

What are you doing to attract international investors?

For companies that ship from Asia to Europe, in 90% of the cases they will ship by sea because it is the most cost-effective method. The second option is air because it is the quickest. Rail is used in rare cases. However, a project like Khorgos will positively impact the rail services between Asia and Europe and will emerge as a viable and reliable third option. It is faster than shipping by sea and cheaper than air. Multinationals that currently use mostly sea or air-freight could start shifting a portion of their cargo to rail, saving them time and storage.