Turkmenistan has opened a cargo and passenger port on the Caspian Sea with an investment of $1.5bn.

The seaport is expected to improve Turkmenistan’s export revenues and establish the country as a major shipping hub that connects Europe and Asia.

It intends to help the country’s economy to reduce its dependence on exporting natural gas. Turkmenistan’s gas exporting business was badly affected when Russia stopped all its dealings with the country in 2016 over a pricing dispute, reported Reuters.

Situated in Turkmenbashi, the newly opened port is set to more than triple the country’s annual cargo handling capacity between 25 and 26 million tonnes.

“It intends to help the country’s economy to reduce its dependence on exporting natural gas.”

The port is equipped with container handling facilities and a polypropylene terminal that will manage products from a near plant, which is scheduled to be opened later this year.

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said that the port will act as a vital link in a modern maritime transport system and will offer easy access to the Black Sea area, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, reported Associated Press.

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Berdymukhamedov further added that the government was open for discussions with its neighbours, including Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, on the use of the seaport.

Turkmenistan is currently connected with China by a railway line that goes through Kazakhstan.

The new port is expected to facilitate cargo movement between China, the Middle East, and Europe.