On 5 July 2017, a roundtable discussion dealing with prospects for the implementation of an intergovernmental Agreement on Facilitation of International Road Transport and its influence on regional transportation links opened in Beijing.
The event is sponsored by the SCO Secretariat and that of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
The roundtable discussion involves SCO Secretary General Rashid Alimov, Deputy Chinese Minister of Transport Liu Xiaoming; Li Yuwei, Director of UNESCAP Secretariat's Transport Department; Chen Menghun, Director of the Belt and Road Research Institute at Hong Kong's Chu Hai College of Higher Education, specialists from transportation ministries and departments, experts from analytical centres, representatives of associations of SCO member states' road transport carriers, as well as representatives of the diplomatic missions of the SCO member states, Belarus and Mongolia in China.
Before the event, SCO Secretary General Rashid Alimov met with Deputy Chinese Minister of Transport Liu Xiaoming. Mr. Alimov and Mr. Xiaoming exchanged opinions on the current status of intra-SCO transportation cooperation and its prospects. They focused on efforts to advance mutually beneficial cooperation during China's Presidency of the SCO.
Mr. Alimov also met with the Director of the UNESCAP Secretariat's Transport Department to chart short-term cooperation plans.
Addressing those present at the discussion, Mr. Alimov delivered a detailed report on expanding intra-SCO road transport cooperation. The transportation system's cost-effective performance directly influences the state of international trade and economic cooperation on SCO territory, connects nations, involves millions of people in proactive and constructive work, accustoms them to the achievements of global civilisation and creates positive shifts in international relations, he noted. "The SCO is called on to improve the transit potential of its member states and to create conditions for effectively using the transportation and communications infrastructure. In this context, we are working purposefully to improve cooperation between countries, members of the ‘SCO family,' and to create a modern and ramified system of transportation routes on SCO territory," Mr. Alimov commented.
"Cooperation in the area of road transport serves as a driving force of expanded multilateral transportation cooperation, and it is hard to overestimate its significance for the entire transportation system and production infrastructure of SCO member states," Mr. Alimov told delegates. He informed them in detail about the work of SCO mechanisms for cooperation in the transport and communications sphere, the work of the Conference of Transport Ministers and the Special Working Group on Development of Transit Potential of SCO Member States.
Mr. Alimov highlighted the importance of the Agreement on Facilitation of International Road Transport that was signed between the governments of SCO member countries in 2014 in Dushanbe. He described the document as "one of the best examples of international transportation treaties creating a new multilateral authorisation system for transporting freight along motorways between the Pacific Ocean and the Baltic Sea; and this system is unique in itself." He informed participants on the Agreement's most important provisions highlighting its advantages.
"The Agreement's open membership creates substantial opportunities for countries, members of the ‘SCO family' and non-SCO states located near SCO territory. First of all, various benefits and advantages are linked with the establishment of stable transport-communications ties and expanded trade-and-economic relations with all SCO countries," Mr. Alimov noted. He told participants about other SCO political-legal documents the aim of which is to develop road transport as well as to boost the transit potential of SCO member-states.
Addressing the participants, Deputy Chinese Minister of Transport Liu Xiaoming reported on efforts to promote interlinked cooperation between SCO member states in the spirit of the Great Silk Road. He informed participants about key Chinese initiatives in the field of transportation, including the Belt and Road initiative and the Western China-Western Europe project. He provided detailed examples of signing various international treaties with foreign countries and implementing significant infrastructure projects in China and in other states helping to translate into life these initiatives.
"China has established effective mechanisms of mutually beneficial cooperation in the transportation sector with most regional countries. The Conference of Transport Ministers of SCO Member-States is the most fruitful mechanism facilitating the well-coordinated implementation of international transportation projects," he said.
Li Yuwei, Director of UNESCAP Secretariat's Transport Department, surveyed the regional situation and UNESCAP's role in expanding sustained mutual transportation links in Asia and the Pacific region. He shared information about regional transportation projects, outlined the main problems during their implementation and voiced several useful proposals to improve mutual transportation links in the region. Although many international transportation treaties have been signed in the Asia Pacific region, the SCO Agreement that was drafted through long-term SCO and UNESCAP efforts can serve as a good example for other regional states, he noted. He wished SCO member states every success in the implementation of the Agreement and elevating transportation cooperation to a better level.
The participants will continue their work on 6 July 2017. Representatives of Chinese and foreign information agencies, journalists from electronic media outlets and online publications are covering the involved and lively discussion.
The roundtable discussion dealing with prospects for the implementation of the intergovernmental Agreement on Facilitation of International Road Transport and its influence on regional transportation links is sponsored by the SCO and UNESCAP Secretariats.
UNESCAP, the largest of the five regional UN commissions, aims to address economic and social issues of the Asia Pacific Region. UNESCAP has had a partnership with the SCO since 2008 on the basis of three-year memorandums of understanding between the SCO and UNESCAP Secretariats. The latest document was signed on 15 December 2015 at a meeting of the Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) of SCO Member States in Zhengzhou, the People's Republic of China.
The Agreement on Facilitation of International Road Transport was signed between the governments of SCO member states on 12 September 2014 in Dushanbe and entered into force on 20 January 2017. The joint commission on facilitation of international road transport consisting of representatives of specialised agencies of SCO member states is a mechanism for coordinating the activities for the document's agreed-upon and consistent implementation.