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Accession of Saudi Arabia to UN TIR Convention to boost trade by facilitating cross-border movement of goods

Published: 22 May 2018

Saudi Arabia has become the 74th Contracting Party to the United Nations’ TIR Convention, the only global customs transit system. Joining the Convention facilitates trade and the seamless and secure movement of goods across borders.

More than 30% of global trade crosses the Red Sea, making Saudi Arabia crucial for goods transit through the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s accession is an important milestone for improving road and multimodal transport in the Middle East, which is experiencing growing interest in the TIR Convention. In the last six months alone, Qatar and the State of Palestine have acceded to the Convention, and the United Arab Emirates has fully implemented the TIR system. Bahrain and Oman are further expected to join soon.

The TIR Convention (1975), which facilitates the transport of goods between countries, is the only global customs transit system in existence. Hosted by UNECE, it now has 74 Contracting Parties covering the whole of Europe, and reaches out to Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. The TIR Convention is expanding rapidly, with Pakistan, China and India, home to almost 40% of the world population, acceding to the Convention within the last three years alone.

Further to the TIR system recently having become operational for China and Pakistan, the first TIR transits between China and Russia have already been registered and are expected to start soon between Pakistan and Iran.

Accession to TIR secures payment of customs duties and taxes by providing a robust guarantee mechanism, thus reducing trade transaction costs and facilitating higher growth of intra- and inter-regional trade.

The TIR system requires customs and national authorities to provide minimal manpower and facilities – which is limited to checks on seals and the inspection of load compartments or containers – and reduces transit delays and congestion at border crossings.

The TIR Convention provides a framework for between 1 and 3.5 million truck trips every year to cross borders as quickly and efficiently as possible, creating significant time and cost savings.


Note to editors

About TIR
The only global customs transit system for moving goods across international borders, TIR “Transports Internationaux Routiers” has been supporting trade and development for more than 60 years, by allowing customs-sealed vehicles and freight containers to transit countries with minimal border checks. It is governed by the United Nations TIR Convention, which is hosted by UNECE, and managed by the world road transport organisation, IRU.

On 17 May 2018 Saudi Arabia deposited its instruments of accession to the TIR Convention. The Convention will enter into force for Saudi Arabia on 17 November 2018. 

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