Juliette Passer, Esq., founding Board member of ICTD, on March 30, 2021 took part in the meeting of the Logistical Operators Guild of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce dedicated to digitalization of transport and logistical operations.

Addressing the participants of the meeting, Ms Passer provided, in particular, a brief outline of ICTD activities in promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 in transportation area with special focus on Human Resources development and education together with recently developed manual called “ABCs of Transport Diplomacy.” She also referenced a recent master class organized last month jointly with Moscow Road Transport University (MADI) and other current consultations with several US universities. 

Regarding the general theme of the meeting, Ms Passer informed participants about ICTD project of the Global Transit Document™ based on innovative blockchain technologies which – once fully implemented – would radically improve management of  global supply chains and international trade.

Transport, logistics and infrastructure development are expected to play a key role in economic development and integration of the northern Arctic regions of Russia – from Archangelsk to Yakutia and Kamchatka. This was the main message of the conference, organized on December 15, 2020 by  the International Academy of Transport in cooperation with the International Center for  Transport Diplomacy held in one of the  landmark buildings in the historical Centre of Moscow, Russia. 

Global Transit Document™ (GTrD™) is positioned to significantly  contribute to these developments through reduction of existing administrative barriers and simplification of bureaucratic procedures in today’s complicated multimodal transport procedures.  This was the main message of Dr. Igor Runov, who addressed  participants of this high level (live and online) event featuring speakers from different northern regions of Russia, including regional administrations, research centers, maritime and railroad sectors, space and aviation. 

The presentation created strong interest among participants who underlined the vital importance of digitalization of transport processes, especially in Russia with its vast territories in the aftermath of COVID-19.

International Centre for Transport Diplomacy has reached an agreement  with Moscow Road Transport University (MADI)  and International Road Council to set up the Centre of professional competence in the area of transport diplomacy in Moscow under the auspices of MADI. 

According to the Memorandum of Understanding and detailed working plan, the first 6 weeks pilot online course on transport diplomacy will be launched in February 2021 and will cover seven initial areas of transport diplomacy – from security to environment and infrastructure. It is expected that during 2021-2022 school year the scope and coverage of educational activities by the Centre will gradually increase to full bachelor’s degree study of transport diplomacy. 

On September 10, 2020, ICTD took part online in the 42nd  Annual Meeting of the International Road Carriers Association (MSD), which was organized from Saratov (Russia). The agenda covered a broad range of issues on road transport construction and management in Eurasia, with special focus on transport safety and security, coordinated measures to fight COVID-19 and Human Resources Development. 

The ICTD delegation informed participants about the latest developments in the UN system – at global and regional levels –  related to transport facilitation in the era of the pandemia, including a  draft of the UN GA Resolution to be adopted shortly. 

Special attention was paid traditionally to the issues of road transport facilitation along Eurasian corridors, including latest TRACECA/MSD/ICTD joint initiative on creation of the single digital multimodal transit document.

The Working Group Meeting is a logical continuation of the joint activity of the PS IGC TRACECA, ICTD and MSD on the implementation of the GTrD pilot project.

The main goal of the Working Group on GTrD is to develop a consolidated opinion on the importance and necessity of the Global Transit Document as well as to determine the main approaches to the implementation of this initiative.

The Working Group attended by representatives from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkey, the Representative Office of Turkmenistan to the UN, the International Center for Transport Diplomacy, the Intergovernmental Council of Road Workers, the International Association of Automotive and Road Education, the International Academy of Transport, and TradeLens IBM. 

During the meeting, the participants of the Working Group on the Global Transit Document got acquainted with the Concept and details of the pilot project on the application of the document in practice.  

The participants of the meeting emphasized the importance of developing a Global Transit Document and continuing work on the main approaches for digitalization of multimodal transport, as well as launch of a pilot project within the TRACECA corridor.

As a result of the discussions, the agreement was reached on the preparation of a detailed concept of the Global Transit Document by representatives of the International Center for Transport Diplomacy, together with other initiators of the project by October 2020.
Representatives of the IT industry IBM Corporation will also prepare proposals for using the experience of TradeLens project in finalizing the concept and implementation of a pilot multimodal caravan by using GTrD.

The Second Working Group Meeting is scheduled for November-December 2020, within the framework of which the work will be continued on the further implementation of the project.

On the photo: (right to left) Ambassador  Atageldi Haljanov, Permanent Representative of Turkmenistan to the UN in Geneva , Dr Igor Runov, Executive Secretary of ICTD

The round table “Transport and connectivity potential of the Caspian Sea region: Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan – the shortest route” was organised on the margins of the 82nd Session of the UNECE Inland Transport Commitee and attracted over 100 diplomatic and industry representatives from Europe,  Asia and many international organizations 

In her opening remarks H.E. Ms. Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of UNECE, praised the co-organisers of the Round table, governments of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, for their initiative to organize the roundtable and for their efforts to facilitate trade and transit along the central t route of the ancient Silk Road. 

Follow up discussion touched upon a number of critical issues related to latest developments in creation of hard and soft infrastructure as well as remaining problems which do not allow  to fully exploit the potential of this shortest route from China to Europe. 

Azerbaijan Ambassador to the UN Mr Sadiqov and Deputy Minister of Transport, Communications and Technology of Azerbaijan Mr Valizadeh provided a detailed overview of large scale  investments in the transport infrastructure of Azerbaijan, in particular, modernization of port Alyat (Azerbaijan) , railway Baku- Tbilisi- Kars (BTK), development of North-South Corridor, airport modernization, oil and gas pipelines.

In his background presentation Ambassador of Turkmenistan to the UN Mr Haljanov underlined the importance attributed by the government of his country to creation of first class basic and supplementary transport infrastructure incl  marine ( Port of Turkmenbashi- 17 mln t annual capacity), Road ( Highway- Ashkhabad- Turkmenbashi and eastwards to Turkmenabad). In this context, the importance of maintaining of friendly and cooperative relationships with its neighbors was emphasized – on bilateral, regional and global basis. 

Recent creation  of Black Sea-Caspian Sea Transport Route from Turkmenistan to Romania (port of Constanta) provide an excellent example of synergizing global vision and regional approach. As reflected in the agreement signed by ministers of foreign affairs of 4 countries, “the parties agreed to implement practical steps to promote jointly the BSCS international transportation route with other interested states and international organizations, notably with the EU for further development of relevant infrastructure and attraction of additional cargo flows and … to encourage the use of digital technologies for simplification of export and import procedures”.

This regional initiative seems to be fully in line with the Europen Union long term vision and attitudes towards euroasian transport linkages reflected in the Joint Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank “Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU Strategy”. In his detailed address  Mr Stefano Paci, representative of the European Union, underlined a special role of Caspian Sea in maintaining euroasian multimodal connectivity on principles of sustainability, comprehensiveness and rule of law. An important role of Eastern Partnership was underlined in this context , including in promoting “ soft  measures”.

The latest developments in implementation of the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) Initiative were presented by Ambassador of China to the UN in Geneva Mr Xu Chen who confirmed China’s commitment to this mega project, underlying, in particular, the importance of ongoing policy coordination in the area of technical standards, safety and customs efficiency. The importance of the upcoming 2 UN Conference on sustainable transport in Beijing in early May was mentioned as the main Silk Road global event in 2020.

Finally, the views of the road transport sector towards development of the Caspian Sea – Black Sea route were  reflected in the presentation of Mr Umberto de Pretto, Secretary General of IRU. He started his presentation with words of appreciation of UN ECE for the interest and support of Road transport industry and , in particular, congratulated everybody with recent long awaited adoption of e-TIR- the digital version of well known “ TIR carnets” – providing invaluable assistance to international haulers for over sixty years. Many other UN Conventions , according to Mr De Pretto, are still awaiting for many countries, especially landlocked, to fully appreciate their importance and join them. 

Summarizing the discussion, the moderator Dr Igor Runov, ICTD Executive Secretary,  thanked panelists and participants for excellent presentations and productive  exchange of views. Representing the shortest way from China to EU, the central route of the ancient Silk Road , nevertheless, have been facing many challenges in attracting commercial transport and tourism – due to multiple border crossings, need for multimodal transport, lack of sufficient basic infrastructure. Due to massive investments n the 5-10 years the situation is currently changing fast to the better and the focus is now changing from “ hard “ to “ soft» infrastructure- reducing cross border barriers, harmonizing legislation and introducing modern IT. 

UN has contributed a lot to this process by adopting at the highest level of 4 Resolutions of UN General Assembly on sustainable transport and transport corridors. Several positive developments currently happening at regional and sectoral level ( adoption of e-TIR, simplification of legal regime in railways). But there is obvious and urgent need for bold  moves and innovative approaches- similar to recent initiative to develop multimodal and fully digital Global Transit Document(GTrD)., announced recently by TRACECA and her partners.  Once developed and tested along Black Sea-Caspian Sea transporte Route it could be later extended to other sections of the Silk Road and introduced worldwide , servicing other sections of the global supply chains. 

On February 26, 2020 at the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of the 82nd session of the Inland Transport Committee (ITC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), initiated by the Permanent Mission of Turkmenistan to the UN Geneva Office, together with The UNECE and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the UN Geneva Office, organized a round table on the theme “Transport and connectivity potential of the Caspian Sea region: Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan – the shortest route”.

Keynote speakers were Ms. O. Algaerova, Executive Secretary of UNECE; Mr. Umberto de Pretto, Secretary General of the International Road Transport Union; Mr. Tadeusz Josda, Chairman of the OSJD Committee; Mr. I. Runov, Executive Secretary of the International Center for Transport Diplomacy (as moderator); Mr. E. Valizadeh, Deputy Minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan; Mr. Hu Chen, Permanent Representative of the PRC to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Mr. Stefano Paci, Deputy Head of the International Relations Division of the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport of the European Commission (from Brussels) and a number of heads of country missions at the ambassadorial level (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and representatives of other international organizations).

One of the goals of the event is the presentation of Turkmenistan’s transport capabilities, infrastructure policies and state achievements under the leadership of the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in the context of the development of international cooperation between the countries, a vision on further prospects of transport routes and views on the main aspects raised in UNGA resolution A / RES / 72/212 “Strengthening the links between all modes of transport to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”.

During the meeting, the Turkmen side announced the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the status of permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan this year and emphasized the special importance of the neutrality of Turkmenistan, recognized at the regional and world levels, which is a solid foundation of Turkmenistan’s foreign policy.

At the end of the round table, the Permanent Mission of Turkmenistan organized a photo exhibition, including the country’s achievements in the field of transport (railway, road, air and sea communications) over 25 years of acquiring the status of permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan.

Following brief but very  productive trip to Azerbaijan, Road Transport delegation, cochaired by ICTD, arrived on February 6, 2020 to the capital of Georgia. During high level meetings in Tbilisi with government officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, Ministry of finance, National Academy of Sciences the discussion focused on the means to improve commercial traffic along Caspian-Black Sea Transit route through harmonization of trans border procedures, creation of single transit document for all modes of transport, education and training of government and business  officials. Dr Igor Runov emphasized , in particular, the important role of recently created Black Sea – Caspian Sea Transport Route with participation of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania and Turkmenistan, which is expected in the near future to become the fastest and shortest way between China and Europe/Turkey

On the photo: (right to left) Mr Buri Karimov, Chairman, International Road Council; Dr Igor Runov, Executive Secretary, Mr Teimuraz Janjalia, Head, Department of International  economic relations, Ministry of  Forein affaires, Mr Giorgi Meskheli ,Deputy Director, International Economic Relations Department

Distant learning courses of transport diplomacy created a lot of interest among our old and new partners in the Central Caucasus and Russia. In Tbilisi (Georgia)  a special protocol was signed with National Academy of Sciences in order to develop new conceptual approaches towards facilitation of multimodal transport  in Eurasia. In Moscow ( Russia) ICTD signed a cooperation agreement with International Association for Automative and Road Engineering Education ( AAREE) with over 150 Universities and colleges from the former USSR and Eurrasia.

On the photo: (right to left) Dr Valentin Siliyanov, President of AAREE, Mr Buri Karimov, Chairman, International Road Council, Dr Igor Runov, Executive Director

On the photo: (left to right) Dr Igor Runov , Secretary General , ICTD; Mr Aset Asavbayev , SecretaryGeneral, PS IGC TRACECA; Mr Buri Karimov, Chairman, Intergovernmental Road Council