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European Trucking Group Cancels Plans to Exclude Russian Trucks


The organization that administers cross-border truck traffic in Europe has canceled plans to suspend Russia from an agreement that speeds truck travel. The International Road Transport Union says it acted after Russian authorities promised to stop violating provisions of the agreement.

The International Road Transport Union had threatened to exclude Russia from the so-called TIR system that enables trucks to avoid normal customs procedures when they cross from one country to another.

The organization said it was going to exclude Russia from the system because it had failed to prevent organized crime groups from using the TIR system to avoid paying customs duties.

More than three-quarters of all irregularities allegedly committed under the TIR system worldwide have been reported by Russian customs.

Under the TIR system, transit countries are guaranteed that they will receive customs fees and duties that were not paid by the shipping company. Insurance companies that are part of the TIR system have to make up the missing payments.

Insurers were angered at Moscow's failure to go after the racketeers who import millions of dollars of goods without paying any customs fees.

Problems with the Russian officials have now been resolved, says Guy Willis is the head of communications for the International Road Transport Union. He said the Russians have promised to bring to justice those who are illegally avoiding paying customs. Mr. Willis said the Russian promise has satisfied the insurers. "The reason that the suspension that we had announced is being revoked is that the insurers have indicated that they are now willing to resume coverage, or maintain coverage, we should say, because it was not actually lifted yet," he said.

Mr. Willis says international trade between Russia and the rest of Europe would have suffered had the suspension gone into effect. "Goods coming into Russia would certainly have become more expensive because the transport costs would have been greater," said Guy Willis. "And, also they would have been in shorter supply because physically it would be more difficult to get the goods in which would have also increased pressure on prices. It would also have made it more difficult for Russian manufacturers to ship goods out, and it would have reduced the amount of business that international transport companies both in Russia and outside had.

63 countries, most of them in Europe, are covered by the TIR system.