Kazakh port in decline bids for slice of China trade

China's trillion dollar Belt and Road initiative has been a buzz-phrase in Kazakhstan ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping unveiled the overland trade and infrastructure vision during a 2013 visit to the capital Astana.

Kazakh port in decline bids for slice of China trade

World Bulletin / News Desk

With the outlines of its six idle cranes obscured by thick fog and pouring rain, Kazakhstan's Caspian seaport Aktau seems an unlikely stop on China's much-hyped new silk road.

But the sleepy port, which has been badly hit in recent years by new oil routes, is vying for a slice of the pie as competition for Chinese trade warms up on the shores of the world's largest inland sea.

For the moment, evidence of Beijing's economic might is light on the ground at Aktau, more than 2,300 kilometres (1,400 miles) from the China-Kazakhstan border crossing that is a key entry point for goods bound for Europe overland.

"This used to be an old port in poor condition with old equipment," said Oraz Koptleuov, a native of Turkmenistan who began working at the port of Aktau as a machinist in 1995.

"Now we have new technology... But there is not enough work. Let there be more work!" he told AFP of the port where 500 people are now employed, down from 700 several years ago.

During a recent visit, an AFP correspondent saw a corrugated steel container marked China Shipping being unloaded on an otherwise deserted dock.

The container had carried a shipment of engine oil from Turkey to Kazakhstan via Azerbaijan's capital Baku, Koptleuov said, but would make the return journey empty.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Ağustos 2018, 11:05