Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports comes into force
The Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports developed under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) entered into force 23 April, after eight of the 17 signatory countries became a Party to it. The Agreement, signed by Asia-Pacific countries on 7 November 2013, will open up new development prospects for landlocked countries and areas facing the challenges of prohibitive costs and complex logistics to get their goods and services to market. By serving similar functions as ports away from coastal areas, such as consolidation and distribution centres, dry ports can create new economies of scale, reduce transport costs and generate employment opportunities for local populations.
Successful trade developments need efficient supply chains to prosper, and supply chains require the integration of transport modes through strategically-located and efficiently-operated intermodal facilities such as dry ports. This Agreement comes at a critical time in history, as Asia’s demand for efficient transport and logistics is growing, with the 61 per cent of the world’s population in the region generating 30 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product and an ever-growing share in the volume of goods traded worldwide.
The Agreement is designed to promote international recognition of dry ports, facilitating investment in dry port infrastructure, improving operational efficiency and enhancing the environmental sustainability of transport. The network of dry ports defined through the Agreement supports the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway networks and ushers in greater prospects for the development of efficient international intermodal freight corridors.
The Agreement also signals a move to a more sustainable growth path as 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 will play an important role in ensuring a more sustainable and inclusive Asia-Pacific region.
The Government of China was the eighth country to become a Party to the Agreement by depositing its approval of the agreement with the United Nations Secretary-General. The other countries to have done so are Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Thailand and Viet Nam.