Revival of Silk Route possible, says IRU Congress

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New Delhi, May 17 (UNI) The historic Silk Route -- world's oldest trade link between Asia and Europe -- can be revitalised if the top leaderships of countries on the route show their political will, transport ministers and experts opined at an international conference in Istanbul, Turkey.

''Road transport can drive peace and prosperity along the Silk Road, provided political priority is given to removing of the many procedural barriers to trade road transport along the route,'' they told the two-day 31st International Road Transport Union (IRU) World Congress, which concluded in Istanbul yesterday.

Among the keynote speakers were Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

All India Transporters Welfare Association (AITWA) President Ramesh Agarwal, who represented India at the congress, said his country fully supported the ambitious initiative to revive the Silk Route, which would give a boost to the economies of The Asian countries, particulary of South East Asia which are among the poorest nations in the world.

''Silk Route is one of the greatest sagas of human endeavour, which will continue to future generations. In modern times, the revival of this route is going to be the ultimate pan-Asian drive of regional cooperation and growth of the countries participating in this ambitious project,'' Mr Gulati said.

He said Transport Ministers of Asian and European countries deliberated and committed themselves to revitalising the Silk Route at the congress.

The AITWA President pointed out that the increase in the share of Asian economies in international trade brought the revival of the ancient Silk Road on the world agenda.

Transport Ministers from some 50 countries participated in the congress, which had "Road Transport, Driving Peace and Prosperity" as its theme. The meeting gathered close to 2000 road transport company CEOs and government decision-makers.

They reiterated their decision to implement UN Conventions on international road transport and the WTO rules in respect of the freedom of transit, simplify documents, rationalise charges and taxes and do away with all restrictions on the free flow of transit traffic.

The other issues which came up for deliberations at the meeting were facilitating visa delivery to professional drivers and taking measures to improve the image of road transport.

The IRU Instanbul Congress, adopted unanimously by the participants, highlighted the need for government to ''promote road transport by providing the adequate infrastructure and implementing the required multilateral facilitation instruments to permit the interconnection of businesses in world market as no country is landlocked to road transport''.

During the event, fairs on road transportation, intermodal systems, loading, stowage, storage and logistic industry were held.

The organisers and the participants were bullish on the phenomenal economic growth currently taking place in India and China and favoured hosting the Sixth Asia-Pacific Conference of Transport Ministers in New Delhi in 2011.

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