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IRU Secretary General spearheads COVID digitalisation call to transport ministers
Türkiye | Istanbul

IRU Secretary General spearheads COVID digitalisation call to transport ministers

4 Feb 2022 · Prosperity

Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) transport ministers meeting virtually this week have discussed the ongoing impact of the pandemic and ways to support transport and transit.

IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto addressed transport ministers from the region’s ten countries – from Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, north through to Central Asia – on transport issues and particularly the role of digitalised tools such as eTIR and eCMR.

In a sign of the importance of road transport in the ECO region, and IRU’s long-time leadership in transport and trade digitalisation, IRU and TIR were cited by all ministers, and Umberto de Pretto was invited to speak first after the ministers’ interventions. 

“With COVID impacts still very real across the road transport sector and restrictions still causing problems at borders, it is more important than ever for governments to accelerate digitalisation efforts in trade and transit, especially on eTIR and eCMR,” said Umberto de Pretto. “I am delighted that ECO and its member states clearly understand this and have worked closely with IRU to drive progress in the past, and into the future.”

Umberto de Pretto called for better coordination on border restrictions that cause congestion, block trucks and goods, and increase health risks on drivers. He also referenced trade corridors where ECO and IRU have worked together to ease transport and transit flows with TIR, saving, in some cases, up to 80% in time and 20% in costs compared to traditional maritime routes. 

Newly activated corridors jointly with ECO have included the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI), Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran (KTAI), and Iran-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan corridors. Further afield, TIR corridors have extended to other regions including the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Underpinning these achievements across the region has been a continued focus on TIR digitalisation and eCMR, the digital protocol to the CMR Convention.    

The ministerial meeting adopted the Ankara Declaration 2022, including acknowledgment of the activation of the ITI road corridor, achieved last year with ECO and IRU support, to boost regional connectivity. 

The Declaration also urges member states to exert all their efforts to digitalise relevant transport documents in order to ensure the smooth flow of goods in transit and mandates the ECO Secretariat to actively conduct projects and workshops on TIR and CMR digitalisation as well as other international transport documents and standards. 

The ECO secretariat and member nations have worked closely with IRU in recent years on transport, transit and trade in the region and beyond. IRU is committed to continuing this partnership. 

Turkey chaired this week’s ministerial meeting; Uzbekistan will host the next annual meeting, in Tashkent in 2023.