The International Road Transport Union (IRU) has reiterated its call for the Russian government to rethink its recent refusal to accept TIR guarantees.
Last week Russia’s Federal Customs Service (FCS) announced that it had added the Volga region to the list of areas where the TIR Carnet would no longer be accepted for international road shipments into Russia.
TIR Convention is the UN-recognised scheme for road haulage movements across international borders and customs regimes, which eliminates the need for customs agencies in intermediate countries to inspect the vehicles and goods on which duties and taxes are guaranteed to have been paid. The Carnet is the TIR document distributed by the IRU, itself authorised by the UN, which acts as proof that the shipment is registered under the TIR programme.
In addition, it is still unclear whether the FCS intends to withdraw the remaining parts of the country – particularly the crucial northern land borders over which most ex-EU haulage movements cross to access the key Moscow and St Petersburg markets – on 1 December, as previously reported by The Loadstar.
IRU secretary general Umberto de Pretto said: “We are faced with an extraordinary situation. The governments of the contracting parties to the TIR Convention, the European Union and now the highest UN TIR bodies, have all confirmed that Russia is violating international law.
“Everyone in the public and private sectors is unanimously calling on Russian Customs to withdraw its unilateral and unfounded measures, which if implemented, will impact trade with Russia and, moreover, the Russian economy and its citizens. Yet, Russian Customs keeps extending its unlawful measures, even on the same day as the UN bodies met to discuss the matter. This flagrant defiance of international law must now stop.”
The key logistical problem the move may throw up is the handling of goods at Russia’s border, Peter Cullum, head of international affairs at the Road Haulage Association, told The Loadstar.
“There appears to be an assumption on the part of the Russians that hauliers will pay the additional guarantees the FCS is demanding, but this could be a big problem for Russian importers because if those guarantees are too expensive then a Russian haulier will need to be contracted for the Russian leg, and the goods will need to be exchanged at the border.
“The question is, where at the border? Inside Russia would appear to be a no-goer, because of the FCS, but the alternative is having Russian trucks crossing the border to collect the goods, where you can see a new set of problems developing.”
Mr Cullum said he was aware of a handful of carriers currently negotiating long-term contracts with shippers – in the four-to-six-month range – which were attempting to take account of the new regulations, but experiencing considerable difficulty in doing so because of the continuing uncertainty.
“We are still rather sanguine that this will be worked out. The key period is likely to be mid-November, a fortnight before the supposed FCS deadline, that is when people will really need clarity,” he said.