The TIR Administrative Committee, representing the 60 States that are members of the TIR Convention, has decided today in Geneva to revise fundamentally the TIR regime to stabilize this unique world-wide Customs transit system and to improve cooperation among the many Customs authorities involved with a view to reducing drastically possible abuse of its facilities.
The TIR Customs transit procedure, based on the United Nations TIR Convention of 1975, provides wide-ranging facilities for international goods transport by road. It allows for unhindered goods transport under Customs seal, based on an international guarantee, from Norway to Iran and from Portugal to Kazakstan with only minimal Customs control at the borders. At present, nearly 3 million TIR transport operations are registered per year and it can be safely said that without the TIR regime the present volumes of land transport and trade, particularly between countries of the European Union and eastern Europe, would not be possible.
Like other Customs transit regimes (such as in the European Union), the TIR regime is facing considerable difficulties as a result of the activities of international organized crime which abuses the facilities provided by the TIR Convention. Customs stamps are falsified, false cargo declarations are lodged and sometimes whole truck loads of sensitive goods (tobacco, liquor, etc.) disappear and are sold on the black markets. National Customs authorities coping not only with smugglers and organized crime, but also with decreasing budgets and, in some countries, often with de-motivated and unexperienced personnel, have often only limited possibilities to combat effectively such criminal activities with all its consequences for State revenues.
The States represented in the TIR Administrative Committee have therefore decided unanimously to provide the TIR regime with a new inter-governmental structure, the TIR Executive Board (TIRExB), whose main objective is to coordinate better the activities of the national Governments in this field. The newly established TIRExB will monitor closely national administrative practices in the application of the TIR regime and will supervise the activities for the administration of the TIR Carnet system, currently under the responsibility of the International Road Transport Union (IRU). Lastly, the TIRExB should also provide for a well functioning international mechanism facilitating consultations between Customs authorities, the transport industry and the insurance groups providing the indispensable guarantee back-up for the TIR regime. An outline of the new administrative structure of the TIR regime is attached.
It is planned that the operation of the TIRExB will eventually be fully financed by the United Nations. For a start it is foreseen that the major part of the required resources will be collected through a small service charge levied on TIR Carnets in the order of US$ 0.25 per Carnet (the present selling price of a TIR Carnet is around US$ 60).
The Administrative Committee has also decided to limit access to the TIR regime only to honest transport operators who must be approved by their national transport associations and by Customs authorities. Furthermore, strict reliability criteria for national associations authorized to issue TIR Carnets have been approved.
Lastly, the TIR Administrative Committee has decided to legalize the IRU SAFETIR system, providing on-line control for each of the more than 8,000 TIR transport operations carried out per day and to lend support for a further improvement of the present EDI system, in close cooperation with the IRU.