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Russia postpones TIR withdrawal

[ August 13, 2013   //   ]

Russia’s Federal Customs Service has postponed its threatened exit from the TIR system for road transport , originally planned for mid-August, until 14 September, according to a report in the Moscow Times. The dispute was over an alleged 20 billion roubles-worth of duty (about £400 million) owned to the customs service by the Association of International Road Carriers, which issues TIR carnets in Russia.

However, Russian customs faced major pressure from foreign business interests, including the Association of European Businesses, alarmed at the thought of road freight in and out of the country being brought to a virtual standstill. The AEB suggested a six-month postponement, but a one-month postponement was agreed, following a recent meeting.

Other international organisations, including the forwarders’ associations umbrella body CLECAT have also raised concerns. In a letter to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs on 31 July it warned that there could be serious disruption of EU – Russia trade through unnecessary delays at borders and increased costs due to the high price of national guarantees.

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) added that Russian customs was trying to justify its decision by using statistics and figures about TIR claims that did not correspond at all to its own figures as reported every year to the United Nations and audited by International Auditors.

In a letter on 5 August, IRU secretary general Umberto de Pretto called upon Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, “to urgently cancel the unilateral and illegitimate decision of the Federal Customs Service” which “would have devastating effects on Russian trade and economic development, as well as on Russia’s trade partners and international road transport operators.

EU Taxation and Customs Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta has also sent a letter to the Russian Customs chief asking Moscow to reconsiderthat if the measure had been implemented as announced, it would be in breach of the TIR Convention.

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