Milestone Asia-Pacific Agreement Signed on Dry Ports

ESCAP Executive Secretary, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer (centre) with Asian Ministers of Transport at signing Ceremony of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports, 8 November 2013.
ESCAP Executive Secretary, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer (centre) with Asian Ministers of Transport at signing Ceremony of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports, 8 November 2013.

Recognizing the critical need to move toward a more sustainable path of development, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and member countries showed their leadership and commitment at the signing ceremony of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports held as part of the Forum of Asian Ministers of Transport.

Convened by ESCAP from 7-8 November, the Forum witnessed 14 member countries sign the Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports, the third Intergovernmental Agreement to be negotiated under the auspices of ESCAP. By signing the Agreement, the governments of Armenia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Thailand and Viet Nam underscored their pledge toward achieving the shared vision of an integrated intermodal transport and logistics system.

“The benefits of economic growth have, for too long, been concentrated mainly in our prosperous coastal communities – with landlocked countries and areas facing challenges of prohibitive costs and complex logistics to get their goods and services to market, and to access regional and global production and supply chains,” said Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP at the signing ceremony. “ This Agreement today is our commitment to change that reality.”

“Dry ports are key hinterland hubs which will help us to leverage the investments we have already made in road and rail,” added Dr. Heyzer. “Together we will create transport and trade corridors of prosperity, transforming landlocked countries into land-linked centres of development.”

The Dry Port Agreement builds on the intergovernmental agreements of the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway networks, built through the ESCAP platform. The Agreement aims to promote international recognition of dry ports, facilitating investment in dry port infrastructure, improving operational efficiency and enhancing the environmental sustainability of transport.

The Agreement also signals a move to a more sustainable growth path. Dry ports create the conditions for the much-needed shift of cargo flows from road transport alone to intermodal options – using road services in combination with more energy-efficient, less polluting alternatives such as rail, short sea shipping and inland waterways.

At the signing ceremony for the Agreement , Thailand went one step further by becoming the first Party to the Agreement through ratification, thereby initializing the process by which the Agreement will enter into force. The agreement will enter into force after eight countries have become Parties.

The ceremony marks the culmination of a process initiated by ESCAP in 2010. The Agreement was finalized in October 2012, and adopted by member States at the Commission’s annual legislative session held in Bangkok in April 2013. The agreement will be open for signature until 31 December 2014 at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The Forum is being held in Bangkok from November 7-8.