Overview of the EATL Study
Joint Study on Developing Euro-Asian Transport Linkages
The following text is a summary of the EATL Study taken from document ECE/TRANS/WP.5/2007/2. To download the entire document click here.
The elaboration of an in-house study was foreseen at the outset of the project. The study was intended to contribute to the formulation of an integrated transport network linking ECE and ESCAP regions, including SPECA countries, on the basis of country information and existing international transport networks under the general project’s title “Identification and formulation of interregional transport linkages and corridors”.
The study presents an in-depth evaluation of major land and land-cum-sea transport corridors between Asia and Europe and attempts to determine their potential viability. Country reports on highway, railway, and inland water transport networks and with relevant details on seaport connections for multimodal transport operations were prepared by the National Focal Points on the basis of the general work description and a uniform questionnaire.
First Draft Conclusions and Recommendations
Merchandise trade between Europe and East Asia grew rapidly over the last decade, reflecting to a large extent the dynamism of the export-oriented Chinese economy as well as the remarkable sustained recovery of economic activity in Russia and other resource-rich economies in the EECCA region. The rapidly expanding number of seaports and maritime routes handling the bulk of trade flows between East Asia and Europe could be complemented by Euro-Asian land transport links thus enhancing prospects for economic development not only in major emerging market powers such as China and Russia, but also Iran, Turkey, Ukraine and other countries along the Euro-Asian routes as well as the 10 landlocked countries participating in the EATL project (Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). The development of efficient Euro-Asian inland transport routes could provide additional transport options to the existing maritime routes, while at the same time be a solid development tool to countries in the Euro-Asian region, especially for the participating landlocked economies.
The landlocked countries along the Euro-Asian land bridge depend on each other for access to international markets. A weak or missing link in one country can render a whole route economically unviable for international transport. The persistence of non-physical bottlenecks, such as excessive documentation requirements, delays at border crossings, unofficial payments, and unexpected closures of borders, continues to discourage transport operators from exploring alternative routes. The result is that the countries spanning the Euro-Asian land bridge face relatively high transport costs, weakening their export competitiveness and preventing them from accessing new export markets that would boost their economic development.
Most of the identified Euro-Asian routes are intermodal as they have to cross the Caspian and Black Seas. This requires that interfaces between modes be as effective as possible so that transport operators would be able to optimize the performance of combined maritime, rail and road modes within the existing Euro-Asian routes.
The EATL project has achieved a number of tangible results to date. Based on the willingness of the 18 countries involved to cooperate as well as on inputs and proposals made by their national experts, the project:
The present in-house study has also identified serious obstacles to the smooth development of Euro-Asian land transport links that pertain to three strategic areas of action (infrastructure, facilitation, policy):
The ongoing cooperation between the 18 EATL Governments and the two United Nations Regional Commissions (ECE, ESCAP) ought to continue and, where possible, needs to be reinforced by implementing strategic actions. The following recommendations could contribute to making the best use of the results and the experience from the implementation of the present project.
The forward-looking development of transport infrastructure requires considerable financial outlays and over a long period. This makes it a complex exercise, requiring Governments to strike a balance with other national priorities, weigh national versus international interests, ascertain the economic, social and environmental net benefits, coordinate programmes and timetables with neighbouring countries, determine the degree of private versus public participation and factor in security considerations.
In all countries along the Euro-Asian transport routes the transport infrastructure investment requirements significantly exceed the funds available. Therefore, the ESCAP and ECE secretariats sought to assist countries to identify, evaluate and prioritize viable investment projects along the Euro-Asian routes selected. Out of the 18 participating countries, 15 countries have submitted data on the EATL projects for evaluation and prioritization on the basis of an agreed methodology. The overall project costs and the results of the project evaluation process can be summarized as follows.
(a) Out of 230 submitted projects exceeding $42 billion:
(b) Submissions have been prioritized in four priority categories:
Funding for 50% of the total investment costs ($21 billion) is secured for the implementation of 130 projects. Another 31% of planned investment (some $13 billion) is associated with high-priority projects that lack secure funding to date. Remaining infrastructure investment planned by the authorities is associated with the projects that were either classified in a low-priority category (7%) or could not be evaluated due to insufficient data (12%). It has to be emphasized that these results are preliminary.
The study makes the following recommendations with regard to infrastructure:
The development of infrastructure alone will not achieve the objective of ensuring the smooth movement of goods between Europe and Asia; much work is yet to be done to remove the non-physical obstacles related thereto. Removing of obstacles to international transport along the Euro-Asian transport routes should be the major focus of the countries concerned.
Border-crossing regimes need to be improved in a major way if Euro-Asian routes are to be more competitive than hitherto. Accession to international legal instruments (UN transport conventions, agreements, etc.) is important but cannot achieve much without the effective implementation of these instruments. The accession to and implementation of the international conventions requires political will and commitment of the countries involved in order to achieve a reasonable level of harmonization in terms of legislation, institutions and practices.
The ECE and ESCAP secretariats are prepared to continue working with countries, at their request, to assess the implications of acceding to and implementing the international legal instruments.
The study makes the following recommendations with regard to facilitation:
Effective and efficient implementation of transport infrastructure and facilitation measures needs to be embedded in a sound policy framework in order to ensure sustainability. Thus, the EATL study elaborates a number of policy recommendations both for the international organizations and the countries concerned. These are the following:
Joint Study on Developing Euro-Asian Transport Linkages