MOLIT holds the East Asia Railway Community Initiative International Seminaron September 4th.
- Taking the first step towards realizing the East Asian Railway Community Initiative-
□ MOLIT (Minister Kim Hyun-mee) held the East Asia Railway Community Initiative International Seminar on Wednesday, September 4th, at 14:00 at InterContinental Seoul Coex, on the occasion of the first anniversary of Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018.
ㅇ As proposed by President Moon at last year’s Liberation Day celebration, the East Asian Railway Community is a cross-border council consisting of six Northeast Asian countries (South Korea, North Korea, China, Russia, Mongolia, and Japan) and the United States that invests in infrastructure and implements economic cooperation projects regarding the railroads in order to lay the foundation for peace and shared prosperity in East Asia.
□ In the meantime, the government has made various diplomatic efforts to establish the foundation for international railway cooperation and lay the foundation for establishing the East Asian Railway Community.
ㅇ To realize the East Asian Railway Community initiative, President Moon attended the UN General Assembly (Sept. 2018), ASEM Summit (Oct. 2018), G20 Summit (Nov. 2018), Oslo Forum (June 2019) and informed the international community of the need to establish the community.
ㅇ MOLIT also explained the community initiative in the Korea-China Railway Cooperation Conference (May 2019, Sept. 2018), the Eastern Economic Forum (Sept. 2018), the International Transportation Forum (Nov. 2018), and the Korea-Russia Transport Vice Minister Meeting (June 2019) to encourage the participation of the relevant countries and confirmed that China, Russia and Mongolia had intention to join the community.
- In addition, in June last year, the 28 existing members including North Korea unanimously joined the Organization for Cooperation of Railways (OSJD). This served as an opportunity to inform the East Asian Railway Community initiative and appeal for support at the open presidential meeting held in Seoul, April of this year, and the open ministers’ meeting in Uzbekistan, June of this year.
- In addition, MOLIT has created a team of experts in economy, transportation, foreign affairs, etc. and have implemented research projects on the establishment of the East Asian Railway Community in cooperation with Korea Development Institute, Hanyang University Industry-Academic Cooperation committee, etc.
□ This seminar was significant as the first official international seminar in which government representatives and experts from the participating countries gathered together.
ㅇ Government officials such as Russian Deputy minister of Transport Vladimir Tokarev, Mongolian Vice-minister of Road and Transport Batbold Sandagdorj, and Chinese National Railway Administration Director of Technology and Law Yan Hexiang, as well as experts from various nations including ERINA (Economic Research Institute for Northeast Asia) of Japan, Liaoning University of China, World Bank and GTI (Great Tuman Initiative) attended the event.
ㅇ The seminar began with the opening address of Kim Kyung-wook, Vice Minister of MOLIT and then followed by the congratulatory remarks of the government representatives of Mongolia, Russia, and China, and the keynote speech was delivered by Kim Se-ho, President of East Asia Railway Community Private Forum.
ㅇ Martha Lawrence, Leader of the World Bank’s Railways Global Solution Area of the World Bank, addressed Regional Integration and the Role of Rail Logistics, and Kim Kang-soo, Senior Research Fellow of Korea Development Institute (KDI) gave a presentation on Detailed Initiatives for the Asian Railway Community and Step-by-Step Implementation Measures for Realizing the Community.
ㅇ In the panel discussion, Professor Um Gu-Ho from Hanyang University was in chair and nine people including government officials and experts from various countries gave their opinions on the establishment of the East Asian Railway Community and discussed how to realize it (Refer to Ref. 1: East Asia Railway Community Initiative International Seminar Program Outline).
□ Martha Lawrence from the World Bank took examples of block-train connections between China and Europe, regional cooperation through the Central Asian Railway Corridor, and the Trans-EuropeaN Transport network (TEN-T) and highlighted that rail cooperation is an important means of achieving regional integration and creating added value. She also predicted that the East Asian Railway Community would make a significant contribution to economic development and peace building in the East Asian region.
ㅇ She also noted that the World Bank was very interested in the East Asian Railway Community, bringing two railway and infrastructure experts to the presentation and discussion.
□ Kim Kang-su from the Korea Development Institute, analyzed and suggested 4 optimal railway routes that were expected to be the most efficient logistics transportation, considering the existing railway operation in Northeast Asia, and
ㅇ He also reviewed the transportation logistics cooperation projects of each country and suggested about 30 economic cooperation projects including railway construction projects, special economic zones, logistics, tourism, energy, and resource development projects to be linked with the East Asian Railway Community. (Refer to Ref. 2: Summary of KDI’s Presentation)
ㅇ Mr. Kim predicted that each participating country would be able to obtain economic benefits from the increase in trade volume and income due to the reduction of transportation costs, the expansion of the market through active exchange, and the development of relevant industries.
ㅇ Stressing that the gross domestic product (GDP) of the participating countries was $ 39.6 trillion, 49.8% of global GDP, the population was 21.1 billion, 27.4% of the world’s population, and the share of trade between the seven participating countries was also very active, accounting for 25-89% of the total trade volume, he believed that East Asia could become the world’s largest economy if the East Asian Railway Community strengthens cooperation among countries.
ㅇ In addition, as a step-by-step implementation plan to realize the East Asian Railway Community, Mr. Kim proposed a blueprint such as establishing a private international forum in 2020, organizing a council between governments in 2021, and establishing an international cooperation organization by the end of 2023.
□ Vice President, Kim Kyung-wook said, "This seminar, which was held on the first anniversary of Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018, was the first official international event to share the details of the East Asian Railway Community proposed by the Korean government and implementation plans with the majority of the participants in the community and to inform the international community. In other words, it is the starting point for the realization of the East Asian Railway Community."
ㅇ "We plan to actively reflect the opinions gathered at today’s seminar, conduct further studies, such as feasibility analysis of the project and devise a funding plan, and prepare a plan to implement the East Asian Railway Community initiative by the end of this year," he added.