As the backbone of logistics network within the supply chain, road transport plays crucial role during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The flexibility of road freight vehicles allows for quick adaptability within the logistics network in response to the urgent needs of general population and production clusters on both national and international level.
As movement of people and freight by road transport has also enabled the COVID-19 pandemic spread, countries along the Asian Highway network had to undertake various measures and policies, such as border closures, additional controls and imposing a range of restrictions etc., attempting to contain the further spreading the COVID 19 pandemic through national and international road transport. On the other hand, recognizing the basic needs of general population, including general foodstuff and other supplies as well as medical appliances, some countries have also initiated some trade and transport facilitation measures to minimize international cargo transport disruption.
Nevertheless, the measures are often unilaterally undertaken by respective country without coordination with neighboring countries along transport corridors, which leads to much confusion and adversely impacted the fluidity of road freight transport operations.
Hence, within this context, the Virtual Expert Group Meeting aimed to: (i) review the current status of the operational requirements along the Asian Highway network with an emphasis on the ESCAP recent work on supporting further harmonization of the AH operational standards on weights, dimensions and emissions by road vehicles; (ii) discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the road transport operations along the Asian Highway network and beyond; and to (iii) assess the scope for strengthened regional cooperation in response to COVID-19 Pandemic and its aftermath.
Information on countries’ experiences and requests, as well as recommendations on the possible collective response along the Asian Highway Network served a good basis to prepare the relevant deliberations of the UNESCAP Committee on Transport (12-13 November 2020), and will contribute to discussions at the next session of the Working Group on the Asian Highway and other intergovernmental and expert meetings, as appropriate. They also guide the priorities and content of UNESCAP capacity building work during and in the aftermath of the Pandemic, including the UNDA project on Transport and trade connectivity in the age of pandemics: UN solutions for contactless, seamless and collaborative transport and trade, implemented by ESCAP in cooperation with UNCTAD and other UN Regional Commissions.
For more information, please access: https://www.unescap.org/events/virtual-expert-group-meeting-safe-and-seamless-transport-connectivity-along-asian-highway