The dispute between the International Transport Companies Association (ASMAP) and the Russian customs authorities which has been rolling on since 2013 looks to have been finally resolved.
On 4 July 2013, the Russian Federal Customs Service banned the use of TIR Carnets following ASMAP’s apparent failure to fulfil its obligations under its guarantees. That gave rise to a real tussle between Russian customs and the Association, plainly to the detriment of international carriers.
Over the past two years, Russian customs have systematically reduced the number of checkpoints which afford trucks carrying TIR plates the benefit of relaxed checking processes at the Russian borders. The introduction of this ban significantly increased transport costs and resulted in a conflict that spread internationally. Despite numerous complaints by carriers, a judgment against Russian customs and even letters sent by the UN, the Russian customs authorities kept the pressure on ASMAP and continued to impose additional burdens on carriers.
The Federal Customs Service only decided to revisit its position after the Kazakh authorities remarked that the actions of Russian customs authorities constituted a direct threat to the project of Eurasian Economic Union.
Thankfully and not before time, the conflict looks to have been resolved this summer, the customs authorities first revoking its notices to terminate its agreement with ASMAP on the regulation of TIR Carnets in Russia. The Federal Customs Service subsequently went on to announce that restrictions on the use of TIR Carnets had been lifted, meaning that international carriers will now at long last be able to resume the use of TIR Carnets.
Encouragingly, the Federal Customs Service and ASMAP also agreed to continue to cooperate on ways to refine certain aspects of the TIR Convention. In particular, the Federal Customs Service and the Association are planning to draft amendments to the provisions of the Convention relating to (i) the recovery of customs duties in full from a guarantor and (ii) the transparency of the activities of the International Road Transport Union. In addition, the Federal Customs Service advocated the enlargement of the TIR Executive Board in order that those countries which have to contend with the most of the TIR freight traffic are represented accordingly. This is hardly surprising given that Russia is among those countries facing the highest flow of freight traffic.
The Russian customs authorities will soon publish a list of checkpoints for trucks carrying a TIR plate. This should finally put an end to this saga which has no doubt resulted in additional expenses and hassle for carriers.