Final results of the second phase of the IRU’s New Eurasian Land Transport Initiative (NELTI) confirm promising prospects to further expand trade and international road transport between Europe and Asia. Top priority must now be given by governments and financial institutions to removing procedural impediments by implementing existing UN multilateral facilitation instruments and developing roadside auxiliary services to drive trade by international road transport between Asia and Europe.
Tbilisi – Unveiled at the 6th IRU Euro-Asian Road Transport Conference and Ministerial Meeting, the final results of the IRU’s New Eurasian Land Transport Initiative (NELTI) – Phase 2 confirmed road trade links between Europe and Asia as an economically-attractive and viable alternative to traditional, saturated maritime trading routes. It also concluded that removing the remaining procedural impediments at borders and developing the necessary auxiliary infrastructure is now essential to realise the significant growth potential of such international road trade flows.
Launched in June 2009 in close cooperation with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and its Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation program (CAREC), the IRU’s NELTI – Phase 2 monitored regular commercial deliveries over 2 years, performed by road transport companies from 13 European and Asian countries, including China, and covering 18 states spanning the Eurasian landmass along five routes (Northern, Central, Southern, Afghan and Chinese).
The average cargo movement speed along NELTI-2 routes was 18.4 km/h, which is equivalent to approximately 450 km per day. The numerous stops on the way, for both justified (fuel refills, meals, rest and road traffic regulations) and unwarranted reasons (border waiting times, extensive vehicle and cargo controls, customs clearance, etc.), explain this relatively low speed.
However, the analysis of drivers’ logbook data highlighted that downtime at borders results in a daily loss of 280km not being driven, which concretely means that almost 40 % of road transport time along the Silk Road is lost at borders due to inappropriate border crossing procedures which impede trade growth along the entire Eurasian landmass. In addition, approximately 32 % of the transport costs are due to unofficial payments and levies borne by the hauliers en route and at border crossing points.
IRU Under-Secretary General and General Delegate to Eurasia, Igor Rounov, stressed, “Streamlining border-crossing procedures through the ratification and strict implementation of the key UN multilateral trade and international road transport facilitation instruments, namely the UN Harmonization and TIR Conventions, as well as by using the web-based IT applications developed by the IRU, such as the IRU TIR-EPD, SafeTIR and BWTO, would significantly reduce international road transport times and costs, thereby further increasing the competitiveness of international road shipments along IRU NELTI routes.”