The New Eurasian Land Transport Initiative (NELTI) was launched in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on the occasion of an international conference on the development of road freight operations in the Central Asian region, held on 16 September, which gathered representatives from UNESCAP, UNECE, Transport Ministries of European and Asian countries, NGOs and international road transport carriers' associations in the region.
The NELTI pilot project, which consists of commercial freight deliveries along three main routes of the Silk Road that will grow over time into new large-scale trade routes, is of crucial importance to landlocked countries of the Central Asian region, as it opens concrete prospects for developing commercial operations by road from the Asia-Pacific region to Europe, which will grant them access to world markets in order to reap the full benefits of globalisation.
All three NELTI routes coincide with the Asian highway network approved by the UNESCAP. Therefore the results of this pilot project will be highly indicative to assess the quality of roads and transport infrastructure along each of the three routes, and also to evaluate the commitment of authorities in transit countries to provide the most favourable conditions for international road transport, such as effective border crossing facilitation to ensure the fast transit of goods through their territories.
NELTI will also be a source of invaluable material for subsequent recommendations for further improvement. Final results will be presented during the 5th IRU Euro-Asian Road Transport Conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in June 2009, in the form of “a road map” addressed by the business community to governments so that they implement the required facilitation measures.
First Deputy Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, Investment and Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Tulyaganov, stressed, “NELTI is very important for Uzbekistan in particular, because half the population of the Central Asian region lives in Uzbekistan. Road transport operations are constantly increasing. A logistic centre is being built in Navoi to develop the transit potential of the country.”
IRU President, Janusz Lacny, underlined, “The project represents a practical implementation of internationally articulated tasks and principles to meet the common vision of governments in the region, including the Almaty Action Programme related to transit transport development in landlocked countries, as well as policy papers adopted by the UNECE, UNESCAP and other international and regional economic cooperation organisations with which the IRU closely cooperates.”
IRU Secretary General, Martin Marmy, concluded, “A project like NELTI is only made possible by upholding the principles of public-private partnership and close cooperation between governmental bodies and the business community. NELTI, which involves road transport companies from Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkey and Uzbekistan, is supported by Ministries and Government agencies of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.”
- Support socio-economic progress and trade relations by linking businesses and approaching communities as well as nations in the Euro-Asian space
- Turn disadvantages of landlockedness of Central Asian states into advantages by providing improved access to export and import markets and benefitting from their transit position
- Monitor impediments to the smooth flow of trade and transport
Regularised commercial road freight transport operations on various Euro-Asian road links