The study on “Improving Transnational Transport Corridors in the OIC Member Countries: Concept and Cases” was undertaken by Fimotions, commissioned by the COMCEC (Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation) Coordination Office. As one of the four Standing Committees of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), COMCEC serves as a central forum for addressing development problems shared by Islamic countries and provides solutions to them. OIC has 57 Member States in the Arab, Asian, and African regions.
Definition and concept of transport corridor
When we talk about a corridor, we might think of a corridor in a school or an office building that connects classes or offices. Actually, the same definition applies to a transport corridor. Corridors are lines of concentrated socio-economic activity that connect two or more countries. Multi-national transport corridors are viewed in the context of agreements between states that facilitate trade through infrastructure investments and development of commercial services for moving freight.
One can argue that the most successful of all transport corridors is the TEN-T network of the European Union. TEN-T corridors are the pinnacle of transport corridors in the sense that they encourage trade, reduce transport costs, improve access to markets, and promote economic integration.
Transport corridors in Islamic countries
Within the OIC geography, there are a few transport corridors, such as INSTC (International North-South Transport Corridor) that connects Russia – Azerbaijan – Iran – India, TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe – Caucasus – Asia), and NTTC (Northern Transit Transport Corridor) that connects Kenya – Uganda – Rwanda – Tanzania – Burundi. The main characteristic shared by the OIC transport corridors is a low degree of intra trade, which is on average less than 10%. This means that the corridor countries trade more with the rest of the world than among themselves. As a comparison, the intra-trade figure of the EU is 50-60%.
The OIC transport corridors have not yet met a major objective of multinational transport corridors, which is to stimulate and facilitate trade between countries along the corridor rather than seeing it as a means to access trading partners on other continents.
Facilitating intra trade is very important, especially in Asia and Africa, which contain many landlocked countries. Ideally, there is substantial trade between landlocked countries along a transport corridor due to the absence of ports. However, this is not the case in the OIC region because of several factors that hinder the trade facilitation. These factors include political tensions between corridor countries that result in border closings, trade restrictions, and even discrimination applied to particular countries. These all create barriers to efficient and smooth trade flows, increase transport costs, and decrease the competitiveness of the goods and the sustainability of the transport system.
Study results and recommendations
The study concludes that political and institutional factors are most important when it comes to OIC transport corridors. It is clear that transport corridors demand a high level of a political cooperation to be successful and, as such, can be a driver to improve political relationships between different territories along their routes. The next crucial step is to establish a permanent corridor secretariat. It is evident from the study that transport corridors with a proper secretariat perform better than those without one. A secretariat provides an identity and “a voice” that represents international commitments to facilitate trade, which is typically a pre-condition for international funding.
A transport corridor has, of course, more than just political and institutional aspects. You can read about other aspects, along with extensive analyses, in the study’s final report by following this link. Fimotions presented this study during the 10th Meeting of the COMCEC Transport and Communications Working Group on October 18th-19th 2017. If you are interested in our presentations or other presentations given at this meeting, please visit the website.