International Transport Sector Confident to Provide Transport's Central Role in Stimulating Economies Around the World



    
    - 800 Delegates From Around the World, Including 52 Transport Ministers
    and Industry Leaders Discussed the Future of Global Transport at the 2009
    International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Germany.
    

    PARIS and LEIPZIG, Germany, May 29 /CNW/ - In the face of the global
economic downturn, transport will play a key role in supporting economic
growth and in the creation of new confidence in the world's economic future,
the delegates of the 2009 International Transport Forum (ITF) agreed. As
almost all global threats have strong, central links and impacts, the
transport sector will remain at the forefront of most global challenges, the
Forum's Secretariat pointed out. "The Forum's lively and fruitful discussions
have exceeded our expectations", the Forum's Secretary General Jack Short said
in reviewing the event. "Despite the severe financial and economic crisis and
the possibility that the impact of the downtown may not be transitory, the
global transport community is confident that - based on consultation,
cooperation and coordination - it will bring about change for the world's
transport of tomorrow. I believe that the Forum 2009 laid some decisive
groundwork in shaping the world's transport and its support in boosting the
global economy for the years ahead."
    Headlined "Transport for a Global Economy: Challenges & Opportunities in
the Downtown", the world's leading platform for international transport came
to a close today. The four-day ITF has hosted 52 Ministers and top business
leaders from around the world in Leipzig, Germany, since Tuesday, May 26th.
The discussions of the 2009 Forum focused on, among other subjects, the
economic downturn and stimulus packages, the risks of protectionism and the
challenges of sustainability as well as the financing of transport and the
reliability and security of transport chains and the need for international
cooperation.
    Several Ministers, including the official ITF host 2009, Germany's
Minister of Transport, Mr. Wolfgang Tiefensee, as well as Mr. Binali Yildirim,
the Turkish Minister of Transport, the Chair of the 2009 Forum, stressed the
significance of technological solutions and close international cooperation as
opposed to individual national strategies in order to help transport to boost
the economic recovery process. The new U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray
LaHood, who made his first official appearance in Europe at the Forum,
underlined his country's commitment to being a partner in international
transport and extending the US high speed rail system in the context of the
nation's stimulus package.
    While acknowledging that transport systems, in general, have never been
as efficient, clean, safe and cheap as today, the ITF Secretariat stressed the
fact that on all these fronts enormous challenges lie ahead, if the global
transport is to meet the demands of the 21st century.
    Analyzing the economic downturn, the Forum concluded that the impact of
the severe downturn, which has led to dramatic volume reductions in transport
markets of 20%, may not be over soon. Two reasons were identified for this
assessment: First, the risk of policies leading to protectionism or excessive
restrictions on financial intermediation may prevent pre-crisis economic
interactions from returning, and, secondly, the crisis reflects and may
correct global imbalances, most notably - but not exclusively - that between
the US and China. In addition, restoring some balance may reduce
trade-intensity of growth, which, in turn, will affect future transport
volumes.
    Looking at stimulus packages around the world, the ITF concluded that,
while many of these have significant transport components, projects with short
lead times, particularly suited to maintenance and upgrade work of
infrastructure, are required in order to create jobs rapidly and to resolve
chronic maintenance backlogs in many countries.
    Discussing how to keep markets open and to avoid protectionism, the Forum
observed that further deregulation would serve as a permanent stimulus to the
economy. Therefore, transport markets need to be opened to international
competition, with opportunities remaining in all modes and in most regions.
Global competition and regulation issues, however, are not handled by a single
institution, but by the individual Transport Ministries. Here, the ITF could
play an important facilitation role.
    Assessing sustainability issues, the Forum stressed the continuous
challenges set forward by climate change. In this sense, sustainability in the
transport sector does require improvement in economic efficiency, safety,
social impacts and environmental protection. Incentives for technological
advance and economic instruments for providing incentives for operators,
industry and consumers to reduce emissions are central to this end.
    The financing of transport needs continues to be challenged by a "funding
gap" between the needs of the sector and available funds, the Forum observed.
This gap will widen as public finances are stretched in the longer term.
    Analyzing supply chains, the Forum observed that the future development
of supply chains will depend on the price of energy and the price attached to
external costs such as CO2, but increasingly on the capacity to provide
reliable end-to-end services. It also stressed that border crossings remain a
serious problem, causing both delays and increasing costs. Among many supply
chain issues the Forum underlined that risk-based regulation should target
resources to areas where they will bring about the most benefit, while, for
example key challenges like container scanning, need to be addressed by
multilateral, cost-effective approaches.
    As a supra-national and inter-governmental event, the Forum provides a
unique opportunity for strategic thinking on the essential role played by
transport today and in the future. The ITF offers the opportunity for
decision-makers of both the private sector and public bodies to devise
strategies and actions on a national and international level. A highlight of
the 2009 Forum was the accession to the Forum of India as a full member. In
addition China was welcomed to the Forum this year as an observer.
    The 2009 highlights included keynote speeches by renowned European
economist and writer Jacques Attali, US Secretary of Transportation Ray
LaHood, as well as Antonio Tajana, the Vice President of the European
Commission. Amongst the business leaders who contributed to the panels and
workshops were the CEOs Peter Bakker, TNT, Tim Clark, Emirates, Stelios
Hagji-Ioannou, Easy Group, Joachim Hunold, Air Berlin, Leif Ostling, Scania,
Scott Price, DHL Europe Express, as well as Ron Widdows, Neptune Orient Lines,
and the new CEO of Deutsche Bahn, Rudiger Grube.
    The International Transport Forum 2010 "Transport & Innovation" will be
held from 25-28 May 2010 in Leipzig under the Presidency of Canada.
    For further information, including webcasts, interviews, background
papers, conclusions and pictures of the 2009 Forum, go to
http://www.internationaltransportforum.org





For further information:

For further information: Michael ZIRPEL, Director of Communications,
International Transport Forum, Offices: 5th floor, 2-4 rue Louis David, 75016
Paris, France, Postal address: OECD/ITF, 2 rue Andre Pascal, F-75775 Paris
Cedex 16, Tel. +33-(0)1-45-24-95-96, Assistant: Tel +33(0)1-45-24-95-88, Fax.
+33(0)1-45-24-13-22, michael.zirpel@oecd.org

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