0335 GMT January 28, 2020
Speaking during a visit to Bileh Savar border crossing in the northwestern province of Ardabil on Thursday, Abbas Akhoundi pointed out that the two countries' border crossings are working round the clock as is evident from more than one million people using the crossings to commute and trade, reported IRNA.
The number is expected to rise in the year to March 2019, the minister added.
Akhoundi noted that 180,000 trucks commute between Iran and Azerbaijan each year, which signifies high trade exchanges between the two nations.
Elsewhere in his remarks, he said, "Fortunately, the Astara-Astara bridge has been constructed and a railroad connecting Iran's northwestern city of Astara to the Azerbaijani city by the same name has come on stream."
The Astara-Astara Railroad, which is a part of a bigger project to link Iranian and Azerbaijani railway systems, runs eight kilometers in Azerbaijan up to the border from where it extends two kilometers to Iran's port city of Astara.
The project also includes a bridge on Astarachay River that stretches along the border.
Tehran and Baku seek to connect their railroads as part of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), which is aimed at connecting Northern Europe with Southeast Asia.
The completed section of the railroad was tested in March 2017 after a train set off on a maiden journey from Azerbaijan's Astara. The train traveled eight kilometers to the border from where it crossed into the Iranian section of the route.
Qazvin-Rasht is a missing link in INSTC in connecting Iran to Russia's Baltic ports and give Russia rail connectivity to both the Persian Gulf and the Indian rail network.
This means goods could be carried from Mumbai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and on to Baku. They could then pass across the Russian border into Astrakhan before proceeding to Moscow and St. Petersburg, before entering Europe.
The corridor would substantially cut the travel time for Asian consumer goods as well as Central Eurasia's natural resources to advanced European exports.
Once completed, the INSTC is expected to increase the volume of commodities currently traded between Iran and Azerbaijan from 600,000 tons to five million tons per year, dramatically increasing bilateral trade from the current $500 million annually.