Road freight in ASEAN: New COVID-19 Response and Recovery Guidelines

Road freight in ASEAN: New COVID-19 Response and Recovery Guidelines

The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member States will have new tools to help them address issues related to road freight transport caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the initiatives under the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework. ASEAN has approved guidelines to support the response and recovery of road freight transport among its Member States in the context of the pandemic. 

Developed with the assistance of the International Transport Forum (ITF) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the COVID-19 Recovery Guidelines for Resilient and Sustainable International Road Freight Transport Connectivity in ASEAN were approved ad-referendum by the ASEAN Senior Transport Officials Meeting (STOM) on 11 January 2021.

The guidelines will support Member States to develop national and regional plans that focus on resilient and sustainable road freight connectivity. They will provide recommendations for responses to the pandemic crisis in the three priority areas, namely: (i) transport workers’ safety and training; (ii) preserving connectivity for efficient and resilient supply chains; and (iii) building back better through digital, resilient and decarbonized transport connectivity in immediate, medium and long-term framework to support the development of cross-border road freight transport in the region.

Specifically, the guidelines:

  • categorise policy responses to Covid-19 related to transport connectivity and resilience;
  • propose principles for the implementation of policies and measures;
  • suggest a communication mechanism for the timely exchange of relevant information, and
  • provide insights for the creation of a real-time monitoring tool to gauge the impact of policy interventions on transport connectivity, capacity and resilience.

In response to the Guidelines, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana said:

“Transport connectivity is now as vital as ever. While we commend the great efforts made by our region to keep freight flowing across borders during the pandemic, we remain acutely aware that more must be done for Asia and the Pacific to stay competitive and fully recover from the crisis. The ASEAN Guidelines pave the way to a more connected, resilient and sustainable future and ESCAP sees this ambitious initiative as one of the milestones in the region’s pandemic response."

Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dato Lim Jock Hoi added:

“The Guidelines support ASEAN’s efforts in improving the stability of road freight flows in the region toward longer-term resilience, preparedness, and competitiveness of ASEAN. They are also in line  with the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, which serves as the region’s coordinated exit strategy from the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in restoring transport connectivity in the region.  Cooperation with ITF and ESCAP in developing the Guidelines signifies the importance of collaboration to support the region’s recovery.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of STOM, Chhieng Pich, Director-General, General Department of Logistics, Ministry of Public Works and Transport of Cambodia noted:

“The completion of the Guidelines is timely to support ASEAN Member States in establishing their regional and national road transport connectivity recovery plans from the Covid-19 pandemic’s disruption. ASEAN’s cooperation in building back better the road freight transport in the region is important and ASEAN transport sector has taken a quick decision in responding to the crisis by developing the Guidelines. ASEAN transport sector welcomes collaboration from the relevant stakeholders to accelerate implementation of the Guidelines.”

In conclusion, ITF Secretary-General Young Tae Kim said:

“I am proud of this important contribution the ITF is making to ensure the seamless flow of road freight in South-East Asia and helping ASEAN Member States build a more resilient and at the same time more sustainable transport future. The collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat and UNESCAP on this project has been outstanding, and a shining example of how international cooperation can translate into positive impact on the lives of our citizens.”

The Guidelines are part of the initiatives under the Implementation Plan of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, which was adopted at the 37th ASEAN Summit in November 2020.  The Guidelines are available online at:

More information is available at: