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Japanese government, shippers, to improve S.E. Asian road transport

The Japanese government, together with half a dozen major shippers and manufacturers that operate in the region, are putting together a major push to improve Southeast Asia¡¯s road network and the rules governing it, in a bid to improve regional shipping service, Nihon Keizai reported. The government has been involved in regional road projects for many decades, but mainly under bilateral aid arrangements that improved highways within countries but didn¡¯t connect them across borders.


One project that did do that, a new bridge completed late last year across the Mekong to link Thailand to central Vietnam near the cities of Hue and Danang by way of southern Laos, is already being eyed by some shippers. But the roads are still rough, unlit and poorly marked, cross-border customs procedures are slow, and regulations prohibit the use in some countries of vehicles that are standard in others.


With 5,000 Japanese companies operating in Southeast Asia, Tokyo sees substantial benefit to its own commercial interests in improving land transport, which can reduce shipping time between most points from two weeks or more to two or three days.


The government believes distribution costs for Japanese commercial interests alone could be reduced by about 120 billion yen ($1 billion) a year by 2015. The project, whose participants include Honda, Yamaha, Toshiba, Fujitsu, the Sumitomo trading House, Sankyu, Inc., and Nippon Express, will begin to survey about 2,500 miles of road, including the route from Hanoi to Bangkok this month.


Based on the survey, Japanese aid officials expect to present an improvement plan covering six routes spanning 3,600 miles and connecting Bangkok with both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), at a meeting of the ASEAN economic ministers in Singapore next May.


According to Nikkei the plan will also propose a unified system of customs clearance procedures, including technology to build an electronic system to issue and track export, import and transshipping permits online.


Source: Japan Automotive Digest

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