The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to re-integrate the TIR Customs transit system
Following the acceptance of the TIR Convention by the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the secretariat of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has been cooperating with the Yugoslav Federal Customs Administration to re-establish the TIR Customs transit procedure in this country.
On 25 and 26 July 2001, the UNECE secretariat will conduct a TIR Training Seminar in Belgrade for senior Customs officials and heads of regional and local Customs offices. The objective of this Seminar is to familiarize senior Customs officials with the procedures required under the United Nations TIR Convention. This will provide the basis for the re-introduction of efficient international road transport of goods with and through the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is an important transit country in the Southeast European transport corridors. At the moment, border crossing procedures for goods entering, transiting or leaving the country are complicated and time consuming. With the introduction of the TIR procedure, international road transport and trade will be able to move efficiently to, from and through this country. The envisaged target date for the start of TIR Customs transit operations in Yugoslavia is 1 October 2001.
With the decision of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to adhere to the TIR Convention on 12 March 2001, the main legal obstacle for the re-introduction of efficient Customs transit procedures for international road transport has been resolved. The practical application of the TIR Convention, however, requires considerable work on national administrative arrangements by competent Customs authorities and private national associations (Chamber of Commerce). It also requires the conclusion of agreements with international insurers, the authorization of national associations and transport operators in line with the requirements of the TIR Convention and the training of hundreds of Customs officials and employees of transport and freight forwarding companies.
The UNECE secretariat has held a number of consultative meetings with the Yugoslav Federal Customs Administration and the International Road Transport Union (IRU) in Geneva in May and June this year, during which all legal and administrative issues for the introduction of the TIR procedure in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were discussed and resolved in principle.
During the last few months, the Yugoslav Federal Customs Administration has recruited around 1.600 new Customs officers, who need to be trained in all aspects of modern Customs procedures. The TIR Seminar in Belgrade will allow senior officers to understand the functioning of the TIR procedure. It will also provide the basis for training of officials at all levels and at all authorized border crossing stations.
The TIR Convention, which is presently used by more than 32,000 transport companies in more than 50 countries in Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, allows road transport operators to cross borders in international and transit traffic without major procedures and costs. The TIR system can be used for transport from Norway to Iran (North-South direction) and from Kazakhstan to Portugal (East-West direction). Thousands of lorries in Europe carry the familiar blue and white TIR plate and indicate that they are using the TIR Customs transit procedure (More than 2.3 million TIR operations are carried out per year).
Traditionally, when goods are in transit or are transported from one country to another, Customs authorities apply national controls and procedures to cover duties and taxes at risk, i.e. to avoid that the goods are sold on the black market without the payment of Customs duties, sales taxes and/or value-added tax upon their importation or transit. These measures vary from country to country, but usually involve crossing the opening of the load compartment of the lorry, inspection of the cargo, imposition of security (guarantee, bond, etc.), the filling-in and processing of national Customs and transport documents, etc. at every border.
The application of the TIR Convention provides for an internationally recognized and accepted Customs transit regime with an internationally standardized and secured Customs document (TIR Carnet), an international guarantee cover in case of irregularities and harmonized Customs procedures, in most cases, limited to a standard visual external control of the sealed load compartment of the lorry and processing of the TIR Carnet. Thus, Customs authorities can reduce their manpower to a few administrative controls while transport operators and traders can make use of inexpensive, fast and secure border crossing procedures with special channels reserved only for TIR operations.
The TIR Customs transit system is supervised by an intergovernmental machinery, the TIR Executive Board (TIRExB) and its TIR secretariat, located in the UNECE headquarters in Geneva (Transport Division). Presently, more than 32,000 authorized transport companies are registered with the TIRExB, which also ensures regular exchange of information and intelligence among participating Customs authorities to avoid possible misuse of the TIR system by smugglers and organized crime. Currently, negotiations are under way among the 63 Contracting States to allow for the use of modern EDI procedures in the application and control of the TIR system word-wide.
Further information on the TIR Customs transit system is available at the TIR web site administered by the UNECE secretariat (www.unece.org/tir/welcome.html)Or contact:
Jose Capel Ferrer, Director, or
or Martin M. Magold,
TIR Secretary and Chief, Border Crossing Facilitation Section,
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
Palais des Nations
CH – 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland