BRICS Summit
Kazan. 22–24 October 2024

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St. Petersburg Hosts First Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Transport

The first meeting of BRICS Ministers of Transport took place on 6 June 2024 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2024.

The meeting primarily focused on the development of the transport industry and the promotion of industry cooperation in BRICS countries, as well as the future of the transport industry in the digital era.

Russian Minister of Transport Roman Starovoyt addressed the meeting participants with a welcome address. The fact that the meeting was held in person confirms just how important transport cooperation is for BRICS countries and the significant potential for further development, he said. “The trajectory of our movement, as well as our countries’ strategic partnership, is based on a commitment to multilateralism and the sovereign equality of BRICS countries, which is also reflected in the motto of our chairship: Strengthening Multilateralism for Just Global Development and Security,” Starovoyt said. “The industry that we represent is in a difficult spot today, given the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current geopolitical situation. It’s clear that we simply need a dialogue between transport agencies to exchange best practices and experience, ensure technical cooperation, build capacity in the transport sector, and develop joint projects among BRICS countries.”

The Minister shared details about Russia’s transport system and emphasized that the industry’s development plans are determined years in advance by the Transport Strategy of the Russian Federation until 2030 with a forecast for the period until 2035, as well as a number of national industry programmes.

The officials also discussed cooperation in air transport with BRICS countries. “There was an increase in the number of passengers transported by Russian airlines to BRICS countries in 2023. The trend towards expanding air traffic is continuing this year. The regulatory legal framework for air transportation is being further developed. In particular, [Russia] signed an agreement on air services with Ethiopia last year. The Russian side is interested in further expanding the geography of its flights within BRICS and establishing cooperation in air transportation,” Starovoyt said.

Commenting on the development of railway transport, Starovoyt said that Russia has significant transit potential and is a connecting link in the East-West and North-South international transport corridors. Given the growing demand for freight transportation to the east, Russia has been paying particular attention to the development of the infrastructure of the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Baikal-Amur Mainline, whose carrying capacity reached 173 million tonnes in 2023. Russian President Vladimir Putin has set the goal of further increasing this capacity to 210 million tonnes in 2030 and to 270 million tonnes by the end of 2032. Russia delivered 96 million tonnes of freight to BRICS countries in the first four months of 2024, an increase of 4.5% from the same period last year. This also takes into account the use of maritime transport.

“Considering the geographical location of our countries, maritime transport is the backbone of the infrastructure of the international economy for us. After all, 90% of global trade is carried out by sea. Modernizing port infrastructure to increase its capacity and, as a result, the volume of cargo transportation, is a primary objective. Today, the development of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) is a strategic issue for our country,” he said.

In 2023, more than 36 million tonnes of cargo were transported via the NSR, which marked a record for the entire period of the route’s operation. Russia’s icebreaker fleet with its 41 vessels ensures the uninterrupted operation of the Northern Sea Route, which is the shortest route between Europe and the Far East.

The meeting participants also spoke about developing road transport, which supports foreign economic relations and helps Russia integrate into the global economic system. Modernizing the road network would significantly contribute to an increase in the transport accessibility of the country’s regions and the population’s mobility.

Starovoyt also spoke about the digital transformation of the transport industry. “Russia is introducing and utilizing modern smart transport systems, which aim to increase the efficiency of existing transport infrastructure, reduce average travel time, increase average speed, reduce the environmental impact, and provide more export and transit opportunities,” he said.

Russia’s transport strategy calls for increasing the share of transportation documents issued electronically to 100% by 2035. The speed of multimodal transportation is projected to quadruple due to the digitalization of the planning and management of cargo and passenger transport and the accompanying document flow. Projects are being implemented to improve the safety of unmanned aircraft and ship navigation, and also to develop and introduce domestic software to ensure the smooth operation of the transport industry.

Russia is creating a national digital transport and logistics platform that will fully digitalize cargo transportation processes using all modes of transport, including interfacing with similar foreign government platforms.

Starovoyt said that Russia is fully in favour of increasing transport cooperation with BRICS countries, which will contribute to the socioeconomic development of all the alliance’s countries.

Following the meeting, the participants adopted the Declaration of the BRICS Ministers of Transport, which outlines key areas of cooperation: transport connectivity and supply chains, innovation and digitalization, and urban mobility and ecology.

The BRICS Ministers of Transport spoke about their own national experience in implementing projects related to the provisions of the Declaration and expressed full support for the importance of developing international transport corridors and strengthening trade, economic, and cultural ties between their countries.

The Roscongress Foundation manages the events of Russia’s BRICS Chairship.

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