The Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports, having Thailand as one of the 17 signatory countries, entered into force on April 23.
Developed under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the agreement is designed to open up new development prospects for landlocked countries and areas facing the challenges of prohibitive costs and complex logistics to get their goods and services to market. By serving similar functions as ports away from coastal areas, such as consolidation and distribution centres, dry ports can create new economies of scale, reduce transport costs and generate employment opportunities for local populations.
The agreement was signed by 17 Asia-Pacific countries in November 2013 and itt came into force after eight of the 17 signatory countries became a party to it. China was the eighth country to approve the agreement. The other countries having deposited approvals of the agreement with the United Nations Secretary-General are Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Russia, Tajikistan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Escap said in a statement that the greement comes at a critical time in history, as Asia’s demand for efficient transport and logistics is growing, with the 61 per cent of the world’s population in the region generating 30 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product and an ever-growing share in the volume of goods traded worldwide.
The agreement is designed to promote international recognition of dry ports, facilitating investment in dry port infrastructure, improving operational efficiency and enhancing the environmental sustainability of transport. The network of dry ports defined through the agreement supports the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway networks and ushers in greater prospects for the development of efficient international intermodal freight corridors.
The Agreement also signals a move to a more sustainable growth path as dry ports create the conditions for the much-needed shift of cargo flows from road transport alone to intermodal options. Using road services in combination with more energy-efficient, less polluting alternatives such as rail, short sea shipping and inland waterways will play an important role in ensuring a more sustainable and inclusive Asia-Pacific region.