IRF hosts high-level debate on the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) at ITF Summit 2019

IRF hosts high-level debate on the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) at ITF Summit 2019

H.E. Mehmet Cahit Turhan, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Turkey (left)
and Kiran K. Kapila, Chairman, IRF (right)

H.E. Mehmet Cahit Turhan, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure of Turkey, opened with a keynote address the session on “The Belt & Road: Bridging the gaps for sustainable transport and growth in EurAsia” organised by the International Road Federation (IRF) on 22nd May 2019 at the ITF Summit 2019 in Leipzig. The panel included top representatives from the World Bank, BSEC, AIIB, IATA, Michelin and PwC and offered a deep dive into key topics surrounding the BRI.

Organised jointly with the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the China Highway and Transportation Society (CHTS) the IRF session opened with a keynote speech by H.E. Mr. Mehmet Cahit Turhan, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure of Turkey, and was followed by a panel discussion that touched upon key topics such as how to create conducive environments for the development of sustainable transport infrastructure project and how to attract private sector investments.

In his welcoming speech, IRF Chairman Mr. Kiran K. Kapila emphasised that the BRI aims to alter the socio-economic landscape along the Silk Road linking Asia and Europe in order to transform it into a thriving economic trading zone. “The BRI represents by far the largest infrastructure initiative of our time. Sustainable infrastructure in its 3 dimensions – safety, equity and efficiency – defines the vision of BRI. We, as the International Road Federation, act as catalysts to bridge, foster and coordinate the required 360 degrees partnerships needed to deliver on this ambitious plan. IRF has been successfully acting as an interface between governments, international bodies, development banks and the private sector for over 70 years. We are at the forefront of creating enabling frameworks and providing insightful data to allow deeper analysis on the key issues”.

Recalling the central role that Turkey has in the region, H.E. the Minister of Turkey said “Once being an essential part of one of the oldest transport corridors, the Ancient Silk Road, Turkey still stands at the crossroads of prominent transport corridors in North- South and East-West directions. The advantageous geographical location of Turkey which stretches from Asia to Europe and Russia to Africa allows it to be a regional and global hub. In this sense, we are very pleased that our perspective on Trans-Caspian Middle Corridor is in a great harmony with Belt and Road Initiative.”

H.E. Mehmet Cahit Turhan, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Turkey, delivering his keynote speech

As highlighted during the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in April 2019, international cooperation and coordination is widely recognised as playing a key role in furthering the positive effects of the BRI. Dr. Supee Teravaninthorn, Director General, Investment Operations, AIIB, mentioned that strong international coordination is required, especially in cross-border investments as these require clear policy coordination. Amb. Michael B. Christides, Secretary General, BSEC, meanwhile, discussed the importance of the BSEC countries as a strategic corridor of the BRI, whilst Ms. Adefunke Adeyemi, Regional Director Africa, IATA, highlighted how the aviation sector can set an example for cooperation and standardisation for the other transport sectors.

(L-R) Adefunke Adeyemi, Dr. Supee Teravaninthorn, Guangzhe Chen, Amb. Michael Christides, Nicolas Beaumont, Julien Ghata

Mr. Nicolas Beaumont, Senior Vice President Sustainable Development and Mobility, Michelin, stated that the BRI must enable sustainable mobility by being safe, green, efficient and accessible, and that projects must be in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. He mentioned the support that the Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) initiative can provide to this effect.

To incentivise investment in BRI projects, Mr. Guangzhe Chen, Senior Director Transport Global Practice, World Bank Group, highlighted the need for robust project selection and appraisal and the inclusion of BRI projects in the national development strategies. Mr Julien Ghata, Partner at PwC, stressed the need for bankable projects and greater transparency all along the process in order to attract private investors. Private participation in the BRI through public–private partnerships (PPPs) was also mentioned as an option for contributing to affordable and superior quality infrastructure.

Moderated by IRF Director General, Ms. Susanna Zammataro, this session was part of the official line up of the ITF Summit 2019, taking place in Leipzig, Germany from 22-24th May 2019 (read more here).

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