24 May 2023

An Overview of International Road Transport Organizations

What are the international organizations influential in road transportation? What are the roles of UNECE, CEMT-UBAK, IRU, SECI, and FIATA?

international organizations

International Organizations and Associations Affecting Road Transport: What are the duties and responsibilities of UNECE, CEMT-UBAK, IRU, SECI, and FIATA?

Many organizations and international entities play a significant role in international road transport. Agreements established within or via these organizations guide international trade and regulate the procedures and operations of road transport. Generally, their primary goals include elevating standards in road transport, disseminating industry-specific information, enhancing safety in transportation, and accelerating the transition to environmentally friendly processes. Türkiye is either already a member of these international organizations or aims to join them.

Major organizations that play a significant role in road transport are:

  • UNECE: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
  • ECMT: European Conference of Ministers of Transport
  • IRU: International Road Transport Union
  • SECI: Southeast European Cooperative Initiative
  • FIATA: International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations

From the road transport perspective, evaluations and audits by these international organizations concerning policies in Türkiye and abroad significantly enhance the competitive capabilities of businesses operating in our country and boost Türkiye's trading competitiveness.

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

One of the organizations that direct road transport is the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). UNECE, comprising many committees, hosts working groups such as "Combined Transport," "Road Traffic Safety," "Inland Transport Committee," "Transport of Dangerous Goods," and "Transport of Perishable Goods."

Major agreements that resulted from negotiations in UNECE's Inland Transport Committee, and to which European Union countries also adhere, include:

  • CMR Agreement: About the International Carriage of Goods by Road Contract. This agreement, which Türkiye has finalized its procedures to be a party to, has been in force since October 30, 1995.
  • TIR Convention: About the International Transport of Goods under the Protection of TIR Carnets. This agreement, accepted in Türkiye in 1985, is still valid today.
  • ADR-European Agreement: Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road. ADR came into effect on January 29, 1968. The ADR regulation has been revised several times since its inception. The latest version, ADR 2003, came into effect on January 1, 2003. Although Türkiye has taken steps to join this agreement, the regulation has not yet been enacted in Türkiye.

Türkiye also follows subjects related to land transport within international organizations like the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and is working towards participation.

Southeast European Cooperation Initiative (SECI)

The Southeast European Cooperation Initiative (SECI) is among the international organizations effective in road transportation. Formed with the participation of 11 different countries, SECI is supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT). With this initiative, the aim is to make border and customs transitions for road transportation easier among the countries in the region and to increase the total trade volume. In line with these goals, a "Memorandum of Understanding" has been in force since 1999 among participating countries. SECI evaluates projects formed by the Agenda Committee. The member countries jointly work on these projects. Both elected and voluntary individuals are included in the committees formed for these projects. Like other countries, Türkiye participates in SECI's projects with a delegation of official institutions and private sector representatives.

European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT)

Founded in 1953, the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) aims to harmonize European customs and transportation legislations and facilitate border transitions. Turkey is among the countries that joined the foundation of ECMT. The countries that signed the 16-article agreement and are founders are Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, England, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Turkey, and Greece. With successful efforts and results, the organization expanded its influence to 41 countries, including Central Asia and North Africa. The permanent secretariat of the organization, which includes Türkiye among its founding members, is located in Paris, France. Priority agenda items include the development of transportation, environmental protection, and road traffic safety. ECMT documents vary according to their validity in different regions. They can be categorized under four headings:

  1. ECMT documents valid in all countries.
  2. ECMT documents valid in all countries except Austria.
  3. ECMT documents valid in all countries except Greece and Austria.
  4. Documents valid in all countries except Austria, Greece, and Italy.

International Road Transport Union (IRU)

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) represents the global transportation sector, encompassing carriers, operators, trucks, buses, and even taxis. Established in Italy in 1948, the organization has 151 members across 68 countries. The IRU aims to ensure that the processes of transporting goods and people are environmentally friendly, secure, and of high standards. One of the union's primary functions is to guarantee goods transportation under the TIR system. Its other roles include:

  • Ensuring safe road transportation practices.
  • Promoting the use of environmentally friendly vehicles and technology.
  • Collaborating with international non-governmental organizations at the official level.
  • Regulating fleet management working conditions and vehicle maintenance processes.
  • Informing members about local and international regulations.
  • Removing obstacles in international trade and transportation processes.
  • Working towards the reduction of documentation procedures in road transport.
  • Encouraging the transition of vehicles to green fuel consumption.

International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA)

The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) was established in 1926 in Vienna, the capital of Austria. Operating with a non-governmental organizational status, FIATA represents over 40,000 forwarders and logistics firms in 150 countries. Among the primary objectives of FIATA, which seeks to unify the forwarder sector through national organizations, are:

  • Announcing new developments and updates to the industry.
  • Enhancing forwarder services by setting standards.
  • Participating in international negotiations representing the industry.
  • Supporting forwarders engaged in transportation regarding their professional training needs.

FIATA has a global structure divided into four regions: Africa and the Middle East, North and South America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. Each region meets twice yearly, once in Zurich and once at the FIATA World Congress. Regional needs are presented to the Institute and Advisory boards during these meetings.

In Türkiye, some institutions represent the road transport sector on the international stage. In addition to the Ministry of Transport and Customs Consultancy, the International Transport and Logistics Service Producers Association (UTİKAD), the International Carriers Association (UND), and the Ro-Ro Ship Operators and Combined Transporters Association (RODER) represent the country.

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Deniz Elçi
Deniz Elçi24 May 2023
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