As we reach the end of 2020, we look back on the year and reflect on the highs and lows for our industry. Without question, the pandemic has marked 2020 as a year like no other in road transport.
Our industry was confronted by serious and immense challenges, with COVID-19 affecting our businesses and the environment they operate in. But the pandemic has also brought out the best in road transport and its people in how we have worked together to deal with the crisis.
IRU’s recent report on the impact of COVID-19 on the industry estimates the overall negative financial impact for road transport operating companies in 2020 to be in excess of an enormous USD 1 trillion.
Times are undeniably hard, and this will continue well into 2021, but we are in this together. Since the beginning of the crisis, the IRU family has become stronger and closer, despite the physical separation.
In March, IRU began lobbying governments and international organisations to provide targeted financial support measures for road transport operators, prioritising direct cash grants, and the reduction of taxes and charges. The message was clear: if the road transport industry is to survive, and to continue underpinning economic and social prosperity as we do, these measures are not optional.
In April, with border restrictions in place throughout the world, eTIR was recognised by the UN Secretary General as an important trade facilitation instrument and an effective tool to combat COVID at border crossings by eliminating the need for human contact.
We have been working hard to support the implementation of eTIR throughout 2020, with the opening of new corridors, and will continue to do so next year in anticipation of Annex 11 of the TIR Convention coming into force in May.
Looking beyond the pandemic, we kept up the pace of our advocacy agenda, defending and advancing our industry on the global stage.
Decarbonisation targets, data governance, urban access, enforcement, trade and many other proposed standards, laws and regulations have been the primary targets of our lobbying efforts.
And alongside our work with regulators, we have new and disruptive technologies on our backs: digitalisation, automation, 5G, artificial intelligence, and new fuel technologies to name but a few. IRU will continue to support its members and the industry in these areas over the months and years ahead.
The upside of this year has been that people saw first-hand how much they need our industry.
People appreciate and trust our companies and our drivers more than ever before. Because road transport stepped up to keep people and goods moving when everyone needed it the most. In 2021, IRU will work with and for our members to ensure that road transport will keep playing this vital role for people and prosperity throughout the globe.
From all of us at IRU, we wish you a safe and peaceful holiday season and a positive and productive new year.