Japan and South Korea plan to allow each other’s tractor-trailer rigs to ply public roads in both countries via ferry services in a bid to improve efficiency in the distribution network, government and industry sources said Tuesday.
The two countries will soon conduct a demonstration test of running semitrailers on each other’s roads, the sources said, adding that officials aim to strengthen economic ties through such cooperation.
An agreement on the project is expected during a meeting this month of ministers from Japan, South Korea and China in charge of cargo distribution to be held in the South Korean port of Busan.
Nissan Motor Co. will participate in the demonstration, the sources said.
In the test, Japan and South Korea plan to use tractor-trailer combinations to carry goods between Nissan’s plant in Fukuoka Prefecture and South Korean auto parts makers’ plants.
Officials involved in the project hope the new distribution network will include China in the future and help create an East Asian economic zone, the sources said.
Currently, Japanese and South Korean semitrailers are not allowed on each other’s roads. Cars are allowed, though.
In the case of South Korean-made auto parts shipped to Japan, containers are trucked to ports, where they are loaded onto containerships and offloaded onto truck trailer chassis in Japan.
The demonstration will use four tractor-trailer rigs with two vehicle identification plates for Japan and South Korea.
Instead of moving their containers to ports for individual loading onto ships, the rigs will drive onto a ferry linking Busan with Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, then drive off the vessels at the other end and reach the Nissan plant in Kanda, Fukuoka Prefecture.
It should cut transport time and costs, and help strengthen the international competitiveness of the two countries’ manufacturers, the sources said.
Japanese automakers are expanding purchases of foreign-made auto parts, which are cheaper thanks to the yen’s appreciation, to retain domestic production of automobiles and protect jobs at home.