Turkey reaches sea transport agreement with Spain

Dünya Executive - - BUSINESS - AYSEL YUCEL

The increasing foreign trade volume between Turkey and Spain has prompted the establishm­ent of a Ro-Ro route between the two countries. During a February meeting between the Turkish and Spanish transporta­tion ministers in Madrid, the delegation from Turkey stated that large Turkish Ro-Ro companies are interested and it would be useful to organize relevant talks. After the meeting, new agreements were signed both on road and sea routes.

Since there is no direct line between Turkey and Spain, trade logisticia­ns currently either use the land route or the Ro-Ro route in France. Logistics companies hope costs will be reduced considerab­ly with the opening of the line to Spain and that it will also provide a time advantage. “We are very interested in all the Ro-Ro lines from Turkey,” UN Ro-Ro CEO, Selcuk Boztepe, said. “Our work for RoRo flights to Spain and the ports of Barcelona and Tarragona continue.”

Jo nt working group establishe­d

The Spanish delegation said that in accordance with their national legislatio­n, when a registered trailer or semi-trailer in Turkey comes to a Spanish port with a Ro-Ro vessel, it is treated as sea transporta­tion. But the journey done afterwards via land is either domestic transporta­tion of goods or transporta­tion within the EU, depending on the destinatio­n. Therefore, they need to be carried by Spanish or European Union vehicles. The Turkish delegation said that this issue might be addressed for the benefit of the two countries during the negotiatio­ns on the establishm­ent of the Ro-Ro lines. Consequent­ly, the delegation­s agreed to create a Joint Working Group to work on the issue.

The foreign trade volume between Turkey and Spain reached $12.7 billion in 2017, of which $6.3 billion is exports and $6.4 billion is imports. Last year, exports increased by 26 percent while imports rose by 12 percent. The increase in foreign trade volume in 2017 was 18.8 percent. This increased trade between the two countries creates new logistical needs. The problems faced at the land borders and insufficie­ncy of documentat­ion increases the demand for Turkish carriers for RoRo. However, as there is no direct Ro-Ro line to Spain, trucks must go to Spain over France.

Cost and time advantages

But it is costly. Alternativ­e Transport, an Ekol Logistics subsidiary, for instance organizes two trips per week to the French port of Sete. From there, it reaches Spain in two hours by road. UN Ro-Ro is one of the biggest Ro-Ro companies in Turkey and was recently purchased by Danish DFDS for one billion euros. It organizes three trips per week to Toulon of France. With the opening of the RoRo line to Spain, there will be no need to transit from a different country for goods that will go to that country by sea, thus providing cost and time advantages.

On the other hand, expectatio­ns on land transport were not fully met at the Madrid meeting. The Turkish Delegation proposed that 20,000 bilateral transit documents should be exchanged, stating that the quota should be increased in order to meet the needs of Turkish road haulers. The Spanish delegation stated that this is not possible due to the imbalance of the market share of Turkish and Spanish carriers. At the end of the long negotiatio­ns, the two came to terms on 12,000 transit documents allowing dual and transit transport.

The foreign-dominated Ro-Ro sector in Turkey grew by 16 percent in 2017, reaching 541,301 containers transporte­d.

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