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ITF-IRU Workshop: Road transport can drive global economic recovery


28 May 2009



The joint ITF-IRU Workshop concludes that road transport can be a key driver of the global economic recovery provided governments worldwide promote and further facilitate trade and road transport.

Leipzig – Organised as part of the International Transport Forum 2009, the joint ITF-IRU Workshop on “Road Transport: promoting global trade, travel and development”, today brought together over 100 ministerial, business and academic representatives from countries in Europe, The Americas, Asia, the Middle-East and Oceania, as well as high-level speakers from the WTO, WCO and UNECE, who concluded that any penalty on road transport is an even greater penalty on the economy as a whole and identified solutions calling for urgent governmental action.
IRU President, Janusz Lacny, said, “It is encouraging to see that potential remedies to the present crisis are fully supported by the leaders of the G20, who set the path for further facilitation of trade and road transport at the recent London summit … Road transport, in this time of economic crisis, can help drive economic recovery. But to do so, historical errors of the Great Depression of the 1930s, where the economic crisis was exacerbated by the halt in transport and trade, should not be repeated.”

Indeed, Government and industry data draw a bleak picture, pointing to a decrease in road freight transport activity of up to 50%, a doubling of bankruptcies, a dramatic increase in unemployment (permanent or temporary layoffs), which already amounts to 140,000 jobs in the EU, 120,000 jobs in the CIS and 200,000 jobs in North America.

IRU Vice President, Graham Smith, added, “The passenger road transport sector also suffers from shrinking tourist demand. Bearing in mind our excellent safety and environmental record that makes buses, coaches and taxis genuine travel alternatives of the future, it is essential that policy decision makers at local, national or international level fully support the industry by doing away with artificial barriers, like unjustified bans on entering touristic cities or unfounded driving and rest time restrictions.”

Workshop participants identified a series of regulatory and fiscal measures to be implemented by governments at national and international levels to support the road transport industry, as has been done for the banks. These measures include:

· introducing real business incentives for safer and cleaner vehicles;

· modify insolvency legislation to allow road transport companies in economic distress to reduce transport capacity and pursue only profitable business operations only;

· induce financial institutions to provide adequate credit lines to transport operators;

· reassess and reduce current taxes;

· ensure open markets and strive for the completion of the WTO Doha round;

· intensify efforts to eliminate neo-protectionist barriers to international road transport.

As a complement to this joint ITF-IRU workshop, the IRU President will also participate in the Ministerial Panel to be held tomorrow, while the IRU Secretary General, Martin Marmy, will take part in the International Leaders Round Table on Friday, where appropriate actions will be discussed to “Move the Agenda Forward” and expedite a global economic recovery in a genuine public-private partnership.

In this framework, the two IRU representatives will advocate the urgent need to facilitate road transport, notably through the ratification and global implementation of the UN Conventions (TIR, ADR, AETR CMR and Harmonization of Frontier Controls), as well as the use of the web-based applications recently developed by the IRU to allow governments to meet, free of charge, their UN and EU obligations (TIR Electronic Pre-Declaration, IRU real-time SafeTIR and the IRU Border waiting Time Observatory).

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