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"The 1520 Area" – a connecting link between the European Union and the Asia-Pacific Region

The Seventh International Rail Business Forum "1520 Strategic Partnership" started work today in Sochi. The key theme is a formula for the growth of the "1520 Partnership" in the system of economic and trading alliances.

At the opening of the forum Vladimir Yakunin, President of Russian railways, passed on to the participants a message of greetings from Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation. The message says that the “1520 Strategic Partnership” forum deservedly enjoys prestige as an important event that has stood the test of time, and where issues related to the industry are discussed and the prospects of further joint work are mapped out at a high professional level. The development of national economies depends in large measure on the effectiveness of this cooperation.

Valentina Matvienko, Chairman of the Federation Council, and Sergei Naryshkin, Chairman of the State Duma, also sent their greetings to the participants in the forum.

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), said Vladimir Yakunin during the opening of the forum. The overall objective, he said, is the need 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.

Vladimir Yakunin emphasised that the annual staging of the forum is a landmark event for everyone involved in the railway industry. The discussions in the round tables and the streams enable senior executives to deepen their understanding of the processes taking place. In his view, this has a positive influence on the quality of the decisions being taken.

The head of Russian Railways introduced the independent directors of the forum: Sergey Karaganov, Chairman of the Presidium of the Public Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Nikita Krichevsky, Chairman of the Expert Council of OPORA RUSSIA, the Russian Public Organisation for Small and Medium Enterprise, Alexander Lyubimov, General Director of RBK-TV, and Andrey Nechayev, President of the Russian Financial Corporation.

The theme of the plenary session entitled “EU-1520-APEC: a trans-Eurasian corridor for the global economy” was the starting point for an intense and dynamic discussion. According to OECD estimates, said Vladimir Yakunin, the aggregate investment requirements of the global transport infrastructure, including airports, sea ports, railways and pipelines in the period up to 2030 amount to more than 11 trillion dollars. More than 44% of this total (in the order of 5 trillion dollars) is investments in the railway infrastructure.

The head of Russian Railways believes that a renaissance of rail transport is thus beginning. The next few years will see an increase in the role of rail transport throughout the world and a substantial inflow of state and private investment to develop it.

Siim Kallas, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport, stated 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. In his opinion, international transport routes and an intensification of freight turnover can not only develop various businesses throughout the world but also form a basis for economic growth in the countries of the Europe-Asia-Pacific region.

Nikolay Asaul, Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation, told the participants about the legal dimension to the question of creating efficient railway corridors.

Peter Ramsauer, Germany’s Minister for Transport, Building and Urban Development, emphasised in his presentation that there is a view of the processes of globalisation, including those occurring in transport, that is currently popular among the political and intellectual elite: namely, that global corridors and transport are not needed: we need to return to local problems in each individual little corner of the world. Peter Ramsauer considers this ideology to be fallacious.

Brian Simpson, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee, reported that the plans presented by Russian Railways in the European Parliament with regard to linking the very heart of Europe with the Far East by a railway corridor provoked serious discussions. In his view, this is an objective for the next few years and decades. Brian Simpson urged everyone to be honest, above all with themselves, and to realise that any global intentions require technical and legal support.

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: