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OECD ministers pledge cleaner, more effective transport

SINAN ÖZTÜRK @sinan_ozturk
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OECD ministers pledge cleaner, more effective transport

OECD transport ministers pledged green solutions for transport, aim to boost trade and tourism while reducing environmental impacts at the ITF 2015, where a Turkish scientist received an award for logistics governance

On the second day of the International Transport Forum (ITF) 2015 held in Leipzig, Germany, ministers and national delegations from around the world have pledged to find better alternatives to improve global trade and tourism connections while using new technologies to achieve lower pollution.

In an open ministerial session chaired by the representative of this year's presiding country, New Zealand's Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges, the video message of the U.N.'s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's was displayed, urging ministers and national delegations to accelerate their efforts to combat climate change.

In the Declaration from Ministers on Transport, Trade and Tourism, ministers have pledged to facilitate global trade through adjusting policies responding to the changes in the economic balance and trade routes, through providing transport links to increase tourism while reducing environmental impacts, through deepening cooperation among different transport means, via digitalization and standardization of transport procedures, better governance of transport, trade and tourism, and by encouraging low carbon transport policies.

Jean-Dominique Senard, CEO of the French tire giant Michelin Group, spoke at the session on behalf of the transport industry and stated the need in business circles for clear signals and visibility from the governments on their policies to curb global warming in order to organize their future.

Three countries have joined the ITF this year: Morocco, Israel and Argentina. Morocco is the first African country to do so, while Israel is the second country from the Middle East.

Turkish scientist receives award for logistics governance in ITF 2015

During the gala dinner, Turkish scientist Doctor Nihan Akyelken from the University of Oxford received ITF's 2015 Young Researcher of the Year Award for "developing a conceptual framework for the governance of sustainable freight transport in the age of globalization." In her paper, Akyelken emphasizes the role of governments, regional, international and supranational bodies in changing the organizational practices of the firms involved in transport and logistics sectors. Dr. Akyelken was earlier a candidate of the same award in 2013. Dr. Akyelken received her award from the head of Turkey's delegation, Deputy Transport Minister Yahya Baş.

Speaking to Daily Sabah, Baş stated that Turkey has played an active role in ITF summits so far, and will continue to do so in the future as a country that plays an important role in global transport. Commenting on the shift to changing trade routes between Europe and Asia and the increasing role of Eurasian rail links, Baş stated that the Marmaray Project that crosses under the Bosporus was an important step for Turkey in acquiring an active role in this shift. He also added that once completed, the Baku-Tiflis-Kars railway line will connect the missing link between the Turkish railway network and Central Asia. Baş also said that Turkey has recently passed a regulation to open its rail freight market to private sector players, and there are ongoing efforts to regulate this process.

The Turkish delegation has also conducted talks with other delegations regarding technical issues in transport. The tender to be opened for 80 additional high speed train sets, which was postponed due the changes over the specifications of the contract and in order to have a more clear political agenda due to the June 7 elections, was an important issue on the Turkish delegation's agenda. Canadian Bombardier, a likely participant in the bidding process along with a Turkish firm, held a meeting with the Turkish delegation regarding this purchase. Deputy Minister Baş stated that they will go ahead with the tender as soon as the new specifications of the contract were set.

Carrier of 35 percent of trade volume, air cargo industry demands flexibility

The issues in the aviation industry were among the key issues focused on during the sessions. In the panel entitled "Aviation in a world of evolving supply chains," the main demand of representatives from the air cargo industry was flexibility over laws regulating the air traffic, especially the night bans in Europe. Al Bedran, the European Regional Transport District Manager of UPS, said that night flight restrictions have had a huge impact on air cargo. Restrictions on outsourcing for ground-handling operations, different cabotage rules and airline ownership structures are different and challenging issues between North America and Europe, Bedran said. Still, UPS will invest $2 billion in automated solutions, infrastructure and building renovations to reinforce its presence in Europe, Bedran added, as e-commerce, one of the main sectors that feeds the demand for the air cargo industry, is expected to increase the world's GDP fourfold.

James R. Billing, Managing Director of Market Analysis from Boeing Commercial Airplanes, stated that the air cargo sector carries 35 percent of the value in trade despite having just 1 percent of the tonnage. Billing also added that the air cargo industry is part of a growing trend as a sign of recovery after the 2008 financial crisis, with over 5 percent growth predictions for the North America-Asia and Europe-Asia axis.

Glyn Hughes, Global Head of Cargo from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), emphasized the lack of knowledge of the air cargo industry as it is perceived as a mode of transport that causes more CO2 emissions than other modes of transport. Hughes gave the example of the campaign in supermarkets against fresh food products brought from the southern hemisphere to Europe by air cargo, stressing that CO2 emissions are also very high for products cultivated in greenhouses, while pesticides are also being used for their cultivation.

The effects of aging and of differentiating air traffic systems and regulations were discussed at the panel entitled "Airlines, airports and air traffic control: Serving the ever-growing demand for international traffic." Toru Hasegawa, International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Deputy Director of Economic Development & Air Transport Bureau, stressed that 191 ICAO members have different interests and reaching a consensus is not possible. Hasegawa said that ICAO's priority is to make their standards and policies applicable and implementable as they are non-binding, more in the form of a gentleman's agreement. Pointing to need for a more comprehensive and liberalized multilateral air traffic regulation throughout the globe, Hasegawa said that 60 percent of bilateral open-sky agreements have never been put into practice.

Chief Economist Brian Pearce from (IATA) also emphasized that government barriers or not-very-well-calculated bilateral agreements have forced many African passengers to make transfers and connections in Europe for inter-African flights, resulting in an important loss of time and increased costs for consumers.

Olivier Jankovec, Director-General of the Airports Council International Europe, said that Europe no longer holds the primary position in aviation due to the regional shift in economic activity towards Asia. "For political reasons, the will of very few people prevails over the general interest," Jankovec said, referring to the airport regulations in Europe, and stated that the European aviation sector does not attract the necessary interest from politicians, the lack of which he predicted would cause the loss of two million jobs and 97 billion euros in revenue.

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