Asian Countries Agree to Pursue Treaty on Dry Ports to Promote Regional Integration

Transport ministers from across Asia have agreed to work on a treaty to promote the development of dry ports – inland transport and logistics hubs – to spur intraregional trade and growth.

The agreement came at the end of the first session of the Forum of Asian Ministers of Transport, which concluded today at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok.

In the Bangkok Declaration on Transport Development in Asia, the ministers agreed to develop an intergovernmental agreement on dry ports to provide connectivity and integration of the Asian Highway and the Trans-Asian Railway networks, creating an international integrated intermodal transport and logistics system.

Under the auspices of ESCAP, countries in the region have already adopted two intergovernmental agreements - on the Asian Highway and the Trans-Asian Railway networks - to promote the development and standardization of 141,000 kilometers of roadways and 114,000 kilometers of railways, linking the continent with Europe and serving as arteries for international trade, especially for landlocked countries in the region.

Dry ports will play an important role in integrating modes of transport, reducing border crossing and transit delays, facilitating the use of energy-efficient and lower emission means of transport, and creating new clusters of economic growth and job creation in local areas.

The first session of the Forum brought together 27 countries in Asia. In his opening message on Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that “enhanced regional connectivity is especially important” in addressing development issues.

In her opening address, Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, spoke of the vital role of the transport sector in providing physical connectivity required for promoting domestic demand and intraregional trade as new sources of growth.

“The economic crisis has shown that relying mainly on exports to western markets comes with inherent risks. Our region will need to diversify the drivers of growth. This must include strategies for promoting increased intra-regional trade and domestic consumption,” said Dr. Heyzer.

The Forum was created by member governments of ESCAP at their annual meeting last April. During the week-long session, delegates discussed issues pertaining to transport development in the region, including the implementation of the Busan Declaration on Transport Development in Asia and the Pacific, and the Regional Action Programme for Transport Development in Asia and the Pacific.

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