The International Transport Corridor "North-South" is the main route for the transportation of goods from India, South-East Asia, Africa and the Middle East to Europe and back, bypassing the Suez Canal. The main advantages of the North-South ITC over other routes and, in particular, over the sea route via the Suez Canal, are in the reduction of shipping distances by half and more, allowing shippers to save time and transportation costs.
In September 2000 in St. Petersburg Russia, Iran and India signed an intergovernmental agreement on the International North-South Transport Corridor at the II Euro-Asian Transport Conference, to which Oman, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Syria and other countries joined later.
The process of development of the North-South ITC in the Russian Federation began three years ago, including the influence of the Fifth Caspian Summit held in 2018, where the historic Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea was adopted.
Russian President Vladimir Putin: “We support the project of the International North–South Transport Corridor, which provides for rail, ferry and automobile services, which we intend to develop. Its launch will allow for a 2.5-fold increase in the speed of transporting cargo, which will amount to 25 million tones delivered annually via Iran from European countries to the Middle East and South Asia”.
Astrakhan region represents Russia in the strategically important Caspian macro-region, at the intersection of the International North–South Transport Corridor and the northern part of the Great Silk Road. Astrakhan region has historically played the role of a link between the countries of the West and the East and was a trade gateway of Russia on the Caspian Sea, thus it was decided to create a port SEZ in Astrakhan region.