Keynote Speech of Mircea Ciopraga at 2017 Xi’an Silk Road Business Summit
8 Sep 2017


Keynote Speech


Mircea Ciopraga

Secretary General of PS of the Intergovernmental Commission, TRACECA


Xi'an, China

8 September 2017


Ladies and gentlemen,


Let me on behalf of the Intergovernmental Commission TRACECA welcome you and thank the organizers for the warm hospitality and for the opportunity to take part in the Silk Road Business Summit which is undoubtedly an important event for strengthening cooperation in the Eurasian region.  


Let me familiarize you briefly with the history of the TRACECA creation and its activity aimed at promotion and expansion of trade-economic and transport relations between Europe and Asia, as well as realization of economic opportunities of TRACECA member states.


The international transport corridor Europe-the Caucas- Asia (TRACECA) is officially recognized by leading international organizations as a natural transit bridge connecting Europe and Asia.


The prospective idea of developing this transport corridor is substantiated by the fact that in ancient times the “Great Silk Road” passed along the current TRACECA routes. Historically within huge space from the Mediterranean to the Pacific Ocean the Great Silk Road joined various countries and peoples, connected their material, artistic and spiritual culture. For many centuries exchange of ideas, technologies, crafts, and religions has been taking place along this Road which continues till nowadays.


In May 1993 in Brussels, the Conference of the Ministers of Trade and Transport of a number of Eurasian countries adopted an official Declaration of these countries and of the EU on the creation of a new transport corridor and the launch of a new Programme called TRACECA. In September 1998 in Baku there was held the International Conference on the Restoration of the Historic Silk Road. The result was the signing of the Basic Multilateral Agreement on International Transport for the Development of the Europe-the Caucasus-Asia Transport Corridor, constituting the legal basis of our activities.


In effect the international transport corridor “Europe-the Caucasus-Asia” “TRACECA” represents a complex system of land and maritime routes to ensure international traffic between Europe and Asia through the Black Sea, the South Caucasus countries, the Caspian Sea and the countries of Central Asia.


Besides, TRACECA is the purposeful programme, initiated by the EC and directed primarily to the development of economic ties, trade and transport communication in the region via supporting political and economic independence of the countries by means of  expanding their opportunities to have access to European and world markets; further expansion of regional cooperation  between the TRACECA countries; realization of technical assistance projects aimed at comprehensive development of the corridor and attraction of investment capital and finally, via optimal integration of the TRACECA transport corridor with the Trans-European Networks (TENs).


Up to date within TRACECA, the European Commission has financed 85 projects to the total amount of 187 million euros. More than 40 % of this budget was utilized for the development of transport infrastructure of the TRACECA corridor. These factors favoured the attraction of large investments to the region. By preliminary data the IFIs’ investments to the transport infrastructure of the TRACECA corridor made to this date more than 2 billion euros.


If at the beginning of the nineties when the TRACECA Programme was launched freight traffic along this transport corridor made around 200 thousand tons, these days this figure increased by more than 300 times.


The “Great Silk Road” is a historically formed route which proved its viability and promoted creation and development of trade and economic relations between countries and continents from ancient times to this day.


As is known in September 2013 the Government of China announced the initialization of the project on creation of the “Silk Road Economic Belt” in the context of development of the large-scale international initiative named “One Belt, One Road. This project will be dedicated for construction and modernization of transport communications, connecting China, Central Asia, Middle East and Europe. A new Silk Road is in fact a transcontinental project, and its implementation should envisage the improvement of both infrastructural and institutional components.


At the same time this new Silk Road can be considered as a renewed   model of cooperation within the Eurasian region which will favour the development of the economy not only of Central Asia region, but of all countries situated along the axis China-Europe. Transport corridors from Asia to Europe including the ITC TRACECA should rank as prospective investment generator which will bring Central Asia nearer to the Old Continent.


Therefore, we certainly perceived positively the news on the initiation of the activity of the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce declared in December 2015, in Hong-Kong, at the First International Forum “Silk Road’. We consider that the creation of this Chamber will encourage in every possible way the implementation of the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative and the use by business community of the Silk Road countries of the whole spectrum of investment and commercial opportunities proposed by this international economic project. The support provided to this initiative by the World Commercial Chambers Federation (WCF) and the China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC) will give an additional impetus to the implementation of the set tasks.


We are also convinced that the “One Belt, One Road” initiative of the Chinese Government will promote the integration of the market demand of China and that of member countries of this project and economic growth recovery.


Dear colleagues,


As is known, international organizations play an exclusive role in the formation of transcontinental transport corridors. It is under the aegis of international organizations that the implementation of the principal projects for creation, development and maintenance of the transport system connecting Europe with Asia takes place.


TRACECA cooperates with many profile organizations in the field of international transport, identifying priorities and perspectives of cooperation on the issues of further sustainable development of transport communication in the Eurasian region.


We suggest that close cooperation be established with the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce, hope that our cooperation will be mutually beneficial and express our intention to conclude a corresponding Memorandum.     


Today the trade turnover of the PRC with the TRACECA countries surpasses 91 billion USD. The figure is impressive, but we consider that there is the potential for further development, particularly, within the framework of improvement of transport communication and simplification of customs-legal procedures, removal of barriers, application of harmonized standards, etc. between the PRC and the TRACECA countries. In this regard we suppose that there are areas of cooperation with the Chinese colleagues.


First of all, this refers to our member states bordering on the China (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan). Unfortunately, it is not everywhere that the capacities of the border control posts meets actual needs of regional and interregional trade. It is more than ten years that there have been taking place the negotiations on the construction of the railway from China to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and further to other TRACECA countries. Identification and implementation of the projects aimed at the improvement of the transport connectivity between countries should be carried out in the first place. It should also be reminded that the PRC does not have any agreement on road communication with most TRACECA countries. These and other issues have to be discussed with the Chinese colleagues with the view of finding a mutually acceptable solution.


Dear participants of the Summit,


The transport system of the TRACECA corridor is a living developing mechanism. Transport connections of the TRACECA routes are orientated towards mutually beneficial cooperation on the whole Eurasian space by providing not only trade but cultural communication between the countries.


The aspiration to a dynamic growth of international trade volumes is a stimulus for the activity aimed at the optimization of traffic, growth of effectiveness of traffic and ensuring safety, security and sustainability of the traffic in the region.


In this connection it should be noted that there was launched a container block train "Nomad Eхpress" moving along the routes of TRACECA from China. Starting from August 2015 up to date several trips of this train were organized and performed for the countries of the South Caucasus, Turkey and Europe.


Within the next few months the railway line between Georgia and Turkey will be commissioned. It means that the interested Chinese exporters can along with the existing ones win additional transport possibilities for delivery of goods by land, taking into consideration considerable trade turnover between the P R China , Turkey and Europe


We consider it quite natural to transport Chinese goods along the routes of the ITC TRACECA as well. For example, container's transportation to Turkey will take about 10 days which is much faster than maritime shipping across the Indian Ocean.


We are sure that broadening of cooperation in the field of transport and trade between the TRACECA countries and the PRC is of common interest in the context of increased economic and social potential, trade and tourism growth, strengthening peace and stability, as well as growth of prosperity in   the region. The PS IGC TRACECA is always open for cooperation in the field of experience exchange with the interested parties with the view of developing international traffic taking into account promotion of reliable and ecologically sustainable environment in the regions.  


Currently 13 countries are participants of the MLA TRACECA, the negotiations on accession of new countries to the MLA are on-going, since we are interested in the geographic expansion in the adjacent regions, particularly, in the countries of South-Eastern Asia.


What can bring them participating in the Silk Road projects?


We consider that participation in the construction of high-speed thoroughfares is a profitable investment for the interested professional and business communities in the China. Construction of transport thoroughfares will in its turn result in the development of infrastructure in the regions. New development centres will arise along new high-speed roads, the logistic network will be expanded, touristic routes will be developed, and jobs will be created. This will in its turn promote the development of allied industries of the economic activity of the regions. Transport and infrastructure development will lead to the expansion of trade. The Silk Road will communicate new countries using Eurasian connections as well as opening up new trade channels.


Besides, development of mutual trade by means of utilizing domestic and external resources should inevitably arise the interest in stability and public security guarantees, to be supported by the Silk Road member states. Therefore, constructive cooperation in the development of the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative may become in a way an earnest of stability and security in the region.


The Eurasian cooperation complying with the worldwide trends towards globalization, basing on the mutual benefit principle, and having good prospective in the format of the Great Silk Road restoration has a number of strategic advantages that could contribute to the unity of the countries in the region and opening of their economic potential.


Moreover, the PRC being the so-called “World's Factory” is a major importer of mineral resources, food, et cetera, exported by some TRACECA countries in sufficient amounts, which is of no small importance in the diversification of foreign trade. It can be added that the Chinese companies, including those interested in the implementation of investment projects not only in the field of infrastructure within the international transport corridor TRACECA may receive good dividends out of cooperation with the TRACECA member states.


I suppose that participation in the implementation of infrastructure projects may interest Chinese partners. Moreover, we are presently preparing for the Third TRACECA Investment Forum, and in case of interest among business and banking communities, we are ready to send you the invitations.


We are convinced that the ITC TRACECA is the natural and most reliable transit bridge out of the currently existing ones between Europe and Asia from the point of view of safety and security of the carried freight.


I would like to emphasize that TRACECA is open for all initiatives to promote strengthening of the regional transport dialogue and ensuring effective and reliable international Eurasian transport connections.


I am sure that our Meeting will successfully carry out the set tasks and come up to our common expectations. 


Let me wish you all fruitful work and positive results.


Thank you for attention.