Christmas is approaching fast. Last Saturday 19th, I and my family went back to Sweden for Christmas and New Year celebrations.
It has been a very busy year with some very meaningful achievements.
From a road transport efficiency point of view, the most rewarding result of the year is that after years of lobbying work, China in 2016 will launch a revised and modernized standard for masses and dimensions of heavy duty commercial vehicles, the so called GB1589. Such a standard has existed for decades, but it is first now that it is written in a truly meaningful way and finally now the government will ensure strict enforcement of this new standard.
It may sound like a small matter, but it is almost a revolution for the Chinese transport and logistics industry as well as for the vehicle and trailer manufacturers. The two starting points when writing the new standard have been efficiency and a level playing field.
Efficiency begins with standardized loading pallets, which are still not yet widely used in China, but which form the basis of the dimensions standards of commercial vehicles. With rising labor costs the whole transport and logistics industry is expected to mechanize fast, which will require standardized loading platforms so that storage systems, forklifts, trailer and packaging dimensions are unified. That journey starts now in China and it will pick up speed as we move along. So from next year vehicles will be produced according to standards that will make vehicles an integral part of a unified transport system.
A level playing field is at the very core a modern market economy where legislators set the boundaries within which competition in the markets takes place. By strictly enforcing masses and dimensions standards for road transport vehicles transport operators will now have to compete by providing better services and by being innovative in their business models – not by bending and braking rules. In a level playing field also manufacturers of equipment will have to provide improved and competitive equipment. For example, with the maximum gross vehicle train weight reduced from 55 to 49 tons, equipment will have to be made lighter so as to maintain high legal payloads.
Efficiency and fair competition are also two centerpieces of the historic economic reforms under way in China since 2013. Sustainable development is also a focus area of reform, which China demonstrated in the recent Paris climate negotiations. In my June 2015 newsletter I wrote that the air quality has improved markedly over the past couple of years. However, in the course of the past months we have again seen air pollutions levels rise to dangerous levels in northern China. Heavy polluters still exist in this country and when winds and climatic factors are unfavorable places like Beijing lock in the pollutants and the sky goes dark and the air gets hard to breathe. Beijing raised a red alert for the first time ever last week and again this week-end a red alert was announced. It is easy to understand that the Beijing government takes measures like this as it is under pressure to show resolve in dealing with air quality problems.
It therefore feels meaningful to invite Chinese representatives to attend the next year’s HVTT14 in New Zealand to be part of our global community and to get inspiration from examples from all over the world.
Before I finish let me say a few words about the weather in Beijing. This year has been unusually warm and the short autumn very mild. Beijing is located some 300 km inland from the coast with four distinct seasons, but in the spring warm southerly winds suddenly push away the dry cold Siberian winds and in the autumn the opposite happens as suddenly. This results in a very short spring and an equally short autumn. This year winter is unusually mild, but curiously we have already seen snow fall twice over Beijing.
Finally, let me wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy new year, a good holiday with lots of rest together with friends and family. Next year we need to come back full of energy to continue making our small contributions to improving road transport efficiency and thereby a more sustainable environment.
Vice President for Asia and Pacific