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ESCWA and IRU Sign MoU on Transport and Trade Facilitation

Beirut, Lebanon

On 28 June 2016, ESCWA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in transport and trade-related issues in the Arab region with the International Road Union (IRU).
Director of ESCWA Economic Development and Integration Division Mohamed El Hacene represented the Commission in the ceremony, while IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto signed on behalf of the Union.
In his remarks for the occasion, de Pretto noted that trade figures within the region are quite shocking, since for example only 9% of trade is between the Arab world.  He went on to say:
“Our mission is to reduce the cost of trade and make it easier for businesses to do business. That is on one hand what we are going to try to achieve through this MoU and we must achieve it for the Arab world.”
He added that in an audience with ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf, both parties talked about hope. “What we want to bring is hope to the youth of the Arab world. If we can bring hope to the youth we can start whittling away at conflict.” Summing up this point, De Pretto said “If we get economies going, we will bring hope to people.”
For his part, El Hacene said “this agreement between IRU and ESCWA is the fruitful outcome of a long journey of cooperation and mutual aid between both organizations since 2000s to promote integrated land transport systems in the Arab region to enhance economic development through trade and transport facilitation. “
He added that this strategic partnership creates an opportunity for both organizations to combine efforts and share knowledge and information on land transport logistics operation, regulations, safety and efficiency and among its aims is to eliminate any non-physical impediments to trade and international road transport in ESCWA Member States; and to promote and support Arab States in the accession and implementation of the key UN multilateral trade and transport facilitation instruments. It also supports the efforts ESCWA is exerting to promote road safety, and to develop economic and social wellbeing in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The MoU incorporates concrete actions including capacity building, training programmes, work on appropriate regulatory environments for road transport, as well as joint events.