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Infrastructure investment & trade facilitation the keys to unlocking silk road potential

30 Nov 2016

China’s major policy programme ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) offers significant opportunities for European road transport operators, but needs to be supported by investment and development of transport infrastructure and the use of trade facilitation tools, such as TIR.

These were the main findings of the 5th IRU/EU Road Transport Conference – ‘One Belt, One Road – consequences for Europe’. The conference participants identified a number of challenges and solutions that exist in Europe if the potential of the OBOR policy is to be maximised.

Umberto de Pretto, IRU’s Secretary General, said, “The new silk road between China and the EU has the potential to increase trade, stimulate economic development along its route and reduce transport times. Trade facilitation tools are an essential element of this increased trade. With China recently acceding to the multi-modal TIR Convention the tools are in place to properly support the overland transport links between the two trading block and their partner countries in between.”

Jan Nemec, who currently leads IRU’s work in the EU said, “It is clear that there needs to be significant EU investment in transport infrastructure, such as multi-modal transport hubs, if Europe is to fully benefit from the opportunities on offer from increased overland trade between China and the Europe. Road transport has a major part to play in spreading those opportunities to European businesses and consumers.”

Increases in transport efficiency and travel times, along with the ability to connect new business zones and land locked countries with major European and Chinese markets, were also identified as major opportunities resulting from the OBOR initiative.

The conference was supported by the Slovakian Presidency to the EU and brought together 300 of Europe’s leading transport professionals and representatives of the Chinese Mission to the European Union.