A highway agreement reached with China at the Belt and Road Forum earlier this month in Beijing, once again proved Turkey's potential as a transit hub in trade between Asia and Europe.
To that end, however, some urgent investment in infrastructure is required, said representatives of Turkey's logistics sector.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to China and attendance at the Forum has recently occupied the agenda of the country's transportation sector.
The fact that a major part of the infrastructure projects, in which China has pledged to invest almost $79 billion, is related to logistics, must be assessed in accordance with the various opportunities it can create for the sector.
China can send goods to Europe in four weeks and wants to bring down the time to just two. Thus it will invest in a route which the Turkish logistics sector also wants to remain active, and according to estimates by Turkish carriers, the period of transit can be reduced to eight days, if the necessary infrastructure is completed.
China, as it decided to open up its $600 billion logistics market, sat with Turkey for the first road agreement. The third round of negotiations on the International Transportation Agreement between Turkey and China was held in Beijing this week. A final agreement was reached between the two countries at the Belt and Road Forum held in China on May 14-15, 2017.
According to sector representatives, if Turkey becomes a transit country, companies exporting between Asia and Europe may also decide to produce in Turkey.
However, experts said that the agreements reached so far were not enough and infrastructure problems need to be resolved urgently, citing the railway connection, which was marked as inadequate, especially after Ankara.
Stressing that Turkey needs to complete some infrastructure works urgently, in order to be a transit country on this route, Chairman of International Transporters Association of Turkey Fatih Şener told the Turkish language daily Dünya that there was a need for investments, especially in the railway.
Noting that the railway transportation was below standard to Ankara's east, due to single lines on this route, Şener said it is very important to shorten the duration of this mode of transport by using "double railways."
Earlier, on May 15, ministers of the two countries signed the Turkey-China Land Transport Agreement. The number and format of transit documents will be decided at a meeting scheduled to be held in August, after a visit to the Urumqi region.
If everything goes well, it is estimated that transport from China may start next year. As of now, 1 million tons of goods are transported per year by road to the west from China, which is getting ready to be included in the TIR system.
The fact that China will open its doors to Turkish carriers is of great importance for the sector too. The agreement will allow transportation from China to third countries. The first agreement signed with Turkey will also be a great advantage for local companies. Thus, Turkish shipping companies will be able to carry China's export goods to Russia and the EU, and even to the Turkic Republics.Trial run with a convoy of 10 trucks
Following his visit to China alongside President Erdoğan, Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan referred to the projects they have been conducting to bring alternatives to the routes between Asia and Europe.
Noting that it would be beneficial to launch the Caravan project between China and Turkey, and to carry freight to Turkey and Europe via a convoy of 10 vehicles in the middle corridor of the Silk Road, Arslan said by doing so they can identify possible problems, obstacles and difficulties on the route, which will also have a significant contribution to the revitalization of the road.