The Administrative Committee of the TIR Convention held an extraordinary high-level session on 12 June 2014. The high level delegations of ministries of Finance, ministries of Transport, national Customs authorities, and diplomatic representatives of some Contracting Parties came together to address the considerable challenges that the TIR system has been facing for the last year, due to measures introduced by the Russian Federation. These have resulted in the progressive elimination of the use of the TIR Carnet by foreign operators entering the territory of the Russian Federation.
The Committee repeated its view that the current state of affairs unequivocally runs contrary to the provisions of the TIR Convention and called for immediate solutions. The Russian Federation provided assurances that it is sustaining efforts to normalize the situation by preparing concrete amendment proposals to the TIR Convention and launching a tender procedure, which would bring about a new agreement with a qualified national guarantor, satisfying both the national requirements and the obligations under the existing TIR Convention. However, the delegations of Contracting Parties urged the Russian Federation to lift the restrictions currently in place, which have adverse economic impacts on transport operators and national economies.
Since September 2013, the Russian Federation has unilaterally decided to no longer accept TIR carnets as sufficient customs duty guarantee. Consequently, transport operators hauling goods into Russia must obtain a new Russian guarantee to secure customs clearance. Based on a sample of actual costs from transport operators and after deducting savings for TIR carnets where relevant, it is estimated (Economic costs of the non-application of the TIR system by the Russian Federation, Copenhagen Economics, 28 March 2014) that the new measures introduced in the Russian Federation create an additional cost of up to USD 2.2 billion per year for the Russian economy. As a result of the new system, import into Russia by road is getting more expensive. Comparing with the value of goods transported, the direct cost associated with the new system is equivalent to an additional tariff of 0.6 per cent to 1.4 per cent for road transport entering into Russia. Ultimately, these costs will be passed on to the Russian economy and the new system will result in higher prices for Russian consumers.
In addition to direct costs, the new system also entails significant indirect costs. The uncertainty inherent in the system has led to an increased administrative burden of as much as 25 per cent. Furthermore, since the national guarantee, in contrast to the TIR system, does not provide any actual guarantee for the transport operators, there is an increased financial risk for the operators who risk economic losses or even bankruptcy.
A mere two weeks before the envisaged date of termination of the guarantee agreement between the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation (FCS) and the national TIR guaranteeing association of the Russian Federation, ASMAP, this extra-ordinary meeting was of critical importance, and viewed by many as the last opportunity to discuss and possibly resolve the situation.
In addition, the Committee discussed progress in the implementation of the automation of TIR operations, known as eTIR. eTIR will be an essential step in the modernization of the TIR Convention. While the work on technical aspects of the eTIR implementation is coming to conclusion, the legal aspects of its implementation are starting to be addressed. The Committee generally supported the strategy towards implementation of the eTIR, but advised that due attention should be given to the need to develop the appropriate legal and administrative framework. Due to specific national legislation, as well as constrained capacities and resources of various Contracting Parties, the Committee drew attention to the need for support to those Contracting Parties that do not have the required capacity to readily engage in computerization. The Committee advocated for providing the necessary technical assistance so as to ensure a smooth and efficient transition to an electronic environment that will benefit operators, traders, businesses, customs authorities and Governments in all Contracting Parties.
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