International Trade

TIR - Crossing Boarders, Opening Frontiers

“Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence”. Lin Yutang 1895-1976. In 1975 The United Nations Economic Commission (UNEC) adopted the current set of multilateral treaties under the “Transports Internationaux Routiers” or International Road Transports system. The (TIR) carnet provides a streamlined in-transit document for the movement of cargo between member nations without border examination. TIR documentation requires and or provides for the following conditions of transport:
  • Verifiable seals for the movement of goods by vehicle or in containers.
  • Movement between countries without delay at border crossings.
  • Simplified customs review in the countries of origin and destination.
  • Shipment by all surface modes including ocean vessel so long as one leg of the journey is performed by truck.
The TIR Carnet is the only global “in-transit” document in existence today with over 35,000 road operators worldwide authorized to execute 1.5 million border crossings each year. Crossing Borders Next year China will be added as the 70th nation to join the ranks of TIR members. These include nations in the U.K., European Union, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, the Middle East, North and South America and the Caribbean. In the words of UNEC Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach, China’s entrance into the TIR system, “can become a real game changer for international trade…” China performs over 700,000 border examinations each year with its western neighbors, and sees acceptance under the TIR Carnet as a means to simplify shipments to and from Europe. The UNEC estimates that European trade with China reached 520 billion Euros last year 60% of which moved by sea. Increased trade with China provides additional benefits to in-transit nations through economic development and improvements to their existing infrastructure. Opening Frontiers Expansion of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative seeks to improve rail and road infrastructure along the ancient “Silk Road” trade routes between Europe and Asia. Launched in early 2014 “One Belt, One Road” is Beijing’s $40 billion dream of becoming the dominant economic power in the East. In an attempt to overshadow Russia’s hold on Central Asia, China is redrawing the map of control over economic and energy resources in the region. Construction contracts and energy related commodities along with finished goods are eagerly bought and sold by European and Scandinavian trading partners. Public and Private Partnerships (PPPs) will play a significant role in developing the transport resources necessary to expedite this growing trade. The UNEC has pledged assistance in fostering these partnerships by joining with the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to create a set of international best practices for the formation of Public Private Partnerships. This May the first joint training program was held in Qingdao. TIR’s New Frontier While U.S. Customs and Border protection has established agreements with 67 nations for the in-transit movement of goods “Admission Temporaire” or Temporary Admission (ATA) Carnets are more often used in the United States. China with her desire for western products and geographic proximity to neighboring markets will reap the rewards of opening her borders through the TIR carnet system. Will TIR membership truly strengthen China’s influence over its neighbors? Will the free flow of commerce be the shot in the arm Europe needs to revitalize its ailing economy?
Matt Guasco
Matt Guasco


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