Active development of foreign economic relations of the Republic of Uzbekistan largely depends on existing problems in foreign trade development, which impact the whole of Central Asia. Academician V. Barthold noted: "The future of Turkestan depends on position, which it takes in the world trade. Commercial importance of Turkestan entirely depends on the development of railways restoring the value of land trade along with the sea one. ”
After fall of the Soviet Union, countries with no access to the sea amounted to 29. The Republic of Uzbekistan takes here a special position, as it is one of two countries in the world separated from the world’s ocean by at least two territories.
Before independence, Uzbekistan could have foreign economic relations with three sea ports - in Iljichyovsk (access to the Black Sea), St. Petersburg (access to the Baltic Sea) and Vladivostok (access to the ports of the Far East). Respective distances from the republic - 3,000, 4,300 and 8,000 km increased the cost of freights trasnportation. However, over the years of independence, the targeted policy of country's leaders significantly changed the situation.
Active measures of the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the coordinated work of the relevant ministries and departments to search and effectively use alternative transport corridors for foreign trade freights transportation resulted in improving extensive network of international transport corridors
Currently, foreign trade freight traffic in Uzbekista involves the following main transport corridors:
corridor 1 - direction of the Baltic states ports (transit through Kazakhstan and Russia) - Klaipeda (Lithuania), Riga, Liepaja, Ventspils (Latvia), Tallinn (Estonia);
corridor 2 - direction of the EU countries through Belarus and Ukraine (transit through Kazakhstan and Russia) - border checkpoints Chop (Ukraine) and Brest (Belarus);
corridor 3 - to the Ukrainian port of Iljichyovsk (transit through Kazakhstan and Russia) with access to the Black Sea;
corridor 4 - direction of the Transcaucasian corridor (transit through Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan) with access to the Black Sea, which is known as the TRACECA corridor;
corridor 5 - to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas (transit through Turkmenistan) with access to the Persian Gulf;
corridor 6 - eastward through the Kazakh-Chinese border checkpoint (Dostyk / Alashankou) to the eastern ports of China, as well as the Far Eastern ports of Nakhodka, Vladivostok, etc.;
corridor 7 - to the Chinese ports (transit through Kyrgyzstan) with the access to the Yellow, East China and South China Seas;
corridor 8 - due to settlement of the Afghan problem, the new prospects are opened for the development of southern alternative transport corridors to Iranian and Pakistani ports of Bandar Abbas, Chakhbahar (IRP), transit through Afghanistan.
A major achievement in the development of international transport corridors was the commissioning of the 320 km–long Tedzhen – Sarakhs – Mashhad railway (incl. rearrangement of wheel pairs from 1,520 mm to 1,435 mm gauge at Sarakhs station) on May 1996 with the active participation of Uzbekistan, which opened a new trans-Asiatic corridor for Central Asian countries access to the world market through Iran and Turkey. In the same year, in Serakhs, the leaders of Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkmenistan signed the Agreement on the Coordination of Railway Transport Activities and Agreement on Cooperation for Regulation of Transit Traffic between the Member States.
After completion of construction of the Bafk-Mashhad railway on the Mashhad-Bender-Abbas route (bypassing Tehran) in May 2005, the distance to the Bender-Abbas port reduced for more than 800 km.
In September 1998, the International Conference "TRACECA - Restoration of the Historic Silk Road" was held in Baku at the initiative of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Uzbekistan, as well as with the support of the European Union. An important outcome of the Conference was the signing of the Basic Multilateral Agreement on International Transport for the Development of the Europe-the Caucasus-Asia by the Heads of 12 countries, as well as Technical Annexes thereof on International Railway Transport, on International Road Transport, merchant shipping, customs procedures and processing of documents.
The Europe-Caucasus-Asia Transport Corridor (TRACECA) is a network of land and sea routes that run from Europe through the Black Sea, the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea to the republics of Central Asia. Considering the TRACECA route in terms of trade relations between Europe and Asia and the location of the main commodity producers in Asia, as well as European consumers on the one hand, and the emergence of freight traffic for potential large cargo-owning countries on the other hand, we can conclude that the TRACECA corridor is very attractive. The distance of the main trans-oceanic direction from Yokohama to the largest Western European ports (Rotterdam, Hamburg, Antwerp, etc.) 2 times exceeds TRACECA route.
On June 18, 2003, the Heads of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran signed the Agreement on creation of the International trans-Afghan Transport Corridor in Tehran, which reduces the distance of foreign trade freight transportation to the port of Iran by 1,500 km.
After entering into force the Agreement between Pakistan and Uzbekistan on Cooperation in Transport and Transit of Goods in March 2011 and in the case of Afghanistan problem settlement, new prospects will be opened to use the territory of Afghanistan for the transit of Uzbek goods, which favorably contributes to the diversification of foreign trade routes to Iranian and Pakistani ports.
In addition, Uzbekistan pays much attention to build trunk railways in order to increase the country's transit potential, as evidenced by the completion of 341 km long Navoi-Uchkuduk-Sultanuizdag railway line in 2001 and the 220 km long Tashguzar-Boysun-Kumkurgan railway line in 2007.
The first in Afghanistan 75 km long Hairaton-Mazar-i-Sharif railway built and commissioned in November 2010 has a staged importance for the entire Central Asia. This project was implemented by Uzbekistan Railways State Joint-Stock Company supported by ADB.