State and carriers must together protect the TIR System from criminal actions
The International Road Transport Union (IRU) publicly declares that the international transit system of road haulages (TIR, Transport International Routier=International Road Transport) is an extremely important for the economy of Russia and that the increasing number of claims resulting from fraudulent acts of cargo owners, that are laid to carriers by customs bodies jeopardize not only the existence of the TIR System in Russia, but also its international authority. Constant and close cooperation between the IRU, Association of International Road Carriers of Russia (ASMAP) and Russian authorities and law-enforcement bodies is necessary to identify and eliminate fraudulent acts.
Moscow Delegation of the IRU has taken an unprecedented step of making this public statement underlying the importance of the TIR System, especially for the Russian Federation. International TIR Convention was worked out under the auspices of the UN Economic Commission for Europe with a view to accelerating European economy recovery after the Second World War. The TIR System managed at international level by the IRU since 1953 had to provide the Customs authorities of the European countries with a single international control system instead the national ones and to effectively protect financial interests of each state on the territory of which the cargoes are transported. Today TIR is an important factor for international trade development by simplifying export, transit and import procedures, TIR also provides customs authorities with the necessary financial guarantees Ц and does so in an extremely reliable and cost-effective manner.
TIRТs ability to facilitate and even stimulate foreign trade is well proven. Today already 55 countries are contracting parties to the Convention and the geographical coverage of the system extends well beyond Europe. However the road transport sector is often criticized over safety and environmental issues while the vital contribution it makes to the economy and, ultimately, to the citizensТ well-being is overlooked. Logically, government should give more attention to road transport in general and TIR in particular and promote their development.
Director General of ASMAP Mikhail Nizov is sure that preservation and development of international road haulages by TIR System is an extremely important factor for development of Russian economy and further integration of the country into the world community. The IRUТs Russian member Association, ASMAP has managed TIR in Russia since 1975. The task is not always easy or appreciated.
Today, more than 80% of imports by road into Russia and about 30% of foreign trade turnover in terms of value are covered by the TIR System. Each day the IRU issues new customs guarantees worth US$500 million to transport operators undertaking foreign trade, of which US$150 million cover trade to, from or through Russia. As the TIR Convention requires these financial guarantees to remain valid for at least 4 years, the total value underwritten by the IRU and its Members is some US$300 billion, of which roughly a quarter covers trade from, to or transiting through Russia.
The damaging consequences of the growing number of Customs authorities claims resulting from criminal or fraudulent acts were elaborated on by Igor Rounov, Head of the IRUТs Permanent Delegation to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Moscow, who says: УAll claims are rigorously investigated prior to settlement, so the only effect is to jeopardize the cost-effectiveness of the TIR System by imposing additional administrative burdens on the IRU and its Members.Ф
If the Russian law-enforcement bodies will not undertake the urgent actions aimed at identification of real perpetrators of fraud, the growing number of claims to carriers resulting from the imperfection of the legal system will not be reversed and the IRU and its Members will be forced to increase the cost of the TIR financial guarantees provided to users. One of the principle advantages of TIR is its low cost, which helps small and medium-sized enterprises to conduct foreign trade. Thanks to sound management and continual refinement of its management systems, the IRU has managed to hold the cost to users at US$0.04 per US$100 of guarantee for the last seven years. The TIR guarantee system is currently 100 to 500 times cheaper than the only alternative solution: guarantees extended by private banks.
УWe are working with the Russian authorities to reverse this negative trend before it leads to irreversible damage to the Russian economy,Ф Mr Rounov continued. УIn 1996 the IRU and ASMAP concluded an agreement with the Russian FederationТs State Customs Commission on the proper implementation within Russia of the IRUТs electronic control system, known as SafeTIR, as well as the rapid exchange of information in the case of non-delivery cargo to its declared destination. There is no room for complacency Ц the widespread economic benefits brought by the TIR System today can only be safeguarded by continued collaboration between the IRU, ASMAP and the Russian Government. The importance of co-operation in road transport was underlined by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan: СThe IRU is making impressive efforts to secure the TIR system from fraud and international crime... It gives me great pleasure to salute its achievements and express, on behalf of the UN, the hope for a continued partnership on the road.Ф
Martin Marmy, Secretary General of the IRU, emphasized that the IRU is not obliged to implement the TIR System within Russia. УIt is a privilege for a country to enjoy all the economic benefits that TIR brings, for the IRU has never been obliged to make TIR available within a particular market. The TIR System has played a major role in economic integration and wealth creation in Europe since the early 1950s. Governments in that region have always recognized TIRТs value and have therefore supported and facilitated its smooth operation.Ф
УThat is why everything must be done, in Russia as in other countries, to reinforce co-operation against organized crime, to ensure rapid identification of the perpetrators of fraud, swift application of sanctions and their exclusion from export, import and transit operations. Only professional, reputable companies, which have been properly registered and licensed by the authorities, can be allowed to operate in such a vital and sensitive field,Ф concluded Mr Marmy.
The answer: public & private sectors УWorking together for a better futureФ
Road transport, the only transport mode capable of satisfying the demands of todayТs just-in-time, global economy, relies in no small part on a smoothly functioning TIR System to encourage international trade. This international trade is the foundation of economic well-being and progress towards a more equitable distribution of wealth between countries.
As managers of the TIR System, the IRU and its TIR guaranteeing member associations are well aware of their responsibilities. They are equally aware that their best efforts will be to no useful purpose without the active co-operation of all relevant government agencies. It is essential that the Russian authorities responsible for customs, road transport and trade all work with the IRU and ASMAP to improve security within road transport and the entire supply chain, by identifying and eliminating fraudsters.
Mr Rounov concluded: УNowhere is it more important than in Russia that the IRUТs slogan Сworking together for a better futureТ be put into practice by both private and public sectors.Ф
The Road International Transport Union (IRU), founded in 1948, is the international non-governmental organization representing the interests of road transport industry of 68 countries worldwide, in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. The IRU headquarters is in Geneva (Switzerland). The main objective of the IRU is, for the benefit of society as a whole, to safeguard the interests of the entire road transport industry worldwide and to increase international co-operation in passenger and goods transport by road, thereby ensuring the harmonious and sustainable development of the world economy.
It is our strong conviction that RussiaТs geographic location, economic potential and human resources will ensure that it will play a key role in creating a Euro-Asian economic zone from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Such a zone would represent an enormous practical contribution to building a fairer and safer world. The road transport industry, due to its flexibility and efficiency, will of course play an extremely important role in this on-going processes of economic integration.
In view of the challenges involved, the IRU established a Permanent Delegation to the CIS in Moscow in 1998, to improve coordination of the IRU policies and practices within the framework of the CIS and promote international co-operation in the road transport industry across the region.
Since 1 March 2002, the IRUТs Permanent Delegation to the CIS has significantly increased the scope and effectiveness of its activities. This caused the opening of a new, well equipped office, situated in the World Trade Center on Krasnaya Presnya. The official inauguration of the office will take place on April 10, 2002.