Turkey exports $42 billion worth of product to the West annually via road transport, sector representatives said, highlighting that this trade should not be disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak measures, which has already damaged the country’s commerce with the East.
Fatih Şener, head of the Strategy and Business Development Department of the International Transporters’ Association (UND), told Anadolu Agency (AA) Sunday that up to 70% of the transportation to Europe is being carried out by Turkish vehicles.
Speaking on the coronavirus’s impact on worldwide transportation, Şener noted that they have not yet faced any problems with European countries, although officials from many of those nations are locking down entire cities and limiting free travel.
He noted that “this supply chain should not be broken” and that the West is not setting up obstacles to transport, as it may be carrying food, medicine, raw materials, masks and protective materials.
Since it is much safer to export goods via road transportation, when taking necessary precautions, Şener said it enables the economic damage caused by the virus to be lowered.
Even though it may seem a bit risky, the drivers are already isolated in their vehicles and are able to avoid most physical contact, he said.
“There is not as much risk as having a cabin crew on a plane,” he added.
Şener said that ground transportation needs to continue to the East as well, which is difficult and temporarily halted along some borders.
Following the rapid expansion of COVID-19 cases in Iran, Turkey, along with other countries such as Turkmenistan, closed their border gates with the virus-stricken country. While trade is being carried out through the Iraqi border, following its temporary closure, with the establishment of buffer zones, it is still on hold with Iran.
When ground shipments to Iran stopped due to the coronavirus, transport traffic to Central Asian countries was stopped as well, Şener said, adding that they have even been trying to reroute the remaining vehicles from the Turkmenistan-Iranian border for about 15 to 20 days.
“We are now trying to lead this traffic through Georgia and Azerbaijan,” but there are obstacles there too, including Kazakhstan’s closed border gates, he added.