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Globalisation and integration – guaranteeing the success of transcontinental projects

The first day’s work has ended at the Seventh International Rail Business Forum “1520 Strategic Partnership”. The key theme of the forum is: “The 1520: A Formula of Growth in a Networked System of Economic and Trade Organisations”.

At the opening of the forum Vladimir Yakunin, President of Russian Railways, introduced the independent directors of the forum and read out a message of greetings from Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Valentina Matvienko, Chairman of the Federation Council, and Sergey Naryshkin, Chairman of the State Duma.

The high level of the current forum was confirmed by the participation of more than 1,000 delegates, among whom are representatives of the political leadership of Russia and countries in the European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), major industrialists, and senior executives from transnational corporations.

Siim Kallas, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport, stated during the plenary session entitled “EU-1520-APEC: a trans-Eurasian corridor of global economy” that more than 95% of the container traffic between Europe and Asia is currently carried by sea. This means travelling a much greater distance and takes twice as much time as using the existing railway infrastructure. Siim Kallas therefore believes that the Trans-Siberian railway is an obvious foundation for a growth in freight turnover and a continental alternative to the sea route from Europe to Asia.

Vladimir Yakunin emphasised that the railway system of the “1520 Area” is effectively a connecting link between the most important centres of the global economy – the EU and the Asia-Pacific Region (APR). The overall objective is to construct a consistent system of relationships with partners in the countries of the CIS, the APR and Europe on the key issues concerning the development of railway transport.

This message was the starting point for further discussions at the forum. The speakers in the plenary session came to the joint conclusion that globalisation, including that of the transport services market, has economic and political foundations. However, it is by no means as simple as that: problems exist both in the area of international law and in the limitations of infrastructure and technology.

During the Strategic Dialogue entitled “1520 and 1435: bridging Eurasia” it became obvious that the European Union is putting a significant emphasis on expanding cooperation with neighbouring countries in the field of transport and supports measures to switch freight traffic to railways. And one way of generating new freight business could be to realise the transit potential of the “1520 Area”, which is a natural land “bridge” between Europe and Asia.

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director-General of the International Union of Railways, believes that Eurasian transport integration will depend on several factors. Above all, the political will is needed, and then care in the use of financial resources, strengthening of the infrastructure, and finally cooperation rather than competition between all parties involved in transcontinental projects.

The topic of subsidising rail transport, the system of mutual guarantees and obligations and the creation of a favourable tariff environment was developed in the course of the expert dialogue session entitled “Infrastructure map 1520: investment incentives for development”.

And finally, the single model for the overall rail transport market was the subject of discussion by the industry stream and was a constructive continuation of the round tables, conferences and other events on this subject which are being held under the auspices of the Russian federation Ministry of Transport and Russian Railways.

As on previous occasions, contracts were concluded and agreements were signed on many aspects of the rail transport business during the first day of the forum. The total value of the contracts signed was in excess of 120 billion roubles.

As before, the forum’s key partners are Russian railways, Siemens AG and Deutsche Bahn AG. The forum is organised by Business Dialogue.

Additional information is available from the press centre of the forum’s organiser, Business Dialogue: