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ST. PETERSBURG, August 3 (Itar-Tass) —— The Northern Sea Route may become an important element of diversification of transport and logistics infrastructure of the APEC region, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov told a press conference on Friday, following a meeting of APEC transport ministers held in St. Petersburg within the context of Russian presidency at the APEC in 2012.
The meeting made a number of initiatives concerning innovations in transport, diversification of supplies and provision of transportation security. Diversification of transport routes can bring a weighty economic effect, reduce transport costs and therefore prices for end users, the minister said.
The use of Russian transit routes is a diversification option, he said. “Certain routes and transport corridors are no longer safe, among them the route along the Horn of Africa where commercial vessels are constantly attacked by pirates,” he said.
Another important aspect is environmental safety: “an overload or concentration of cargo transportation may present a certain threat to the nature. That is why, diversification is so important – it is necessary to broaden the geography of routes, primarily with the Northern Sea Route,” he said.
The Northern Sea Route is a shipping lane from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean along the Russian Arctic coast from the Barents Sea, along Siberia, to the Far East. The route lies in Arctic waters and parts are free of ice for only two months per year.
Cargo shipping from Europe to the Far East along the Northern Sea Route is growing common. The diesel-and-electric-powered vessel, the Captain Myshevsky of the Russian Far Eastern Sea Shipping Company, was one of the first to traverse those waters. It covered the distance within 18 days in May 1978 with the assistance of the Siberia nuclear-powered icebreaker.
The minister also said that Russia called for further relaxation and harmonization of customs procedures in foreign trade deals and more intensive use of satellite systems.
The items discussed at the Friday meeting were reflected in its final document. The ministers expressed hope that main provisions of their declaration would be included in the documents of the APEC Vladivostok summit this September.