Report of National Capacity Building Workshops on TIR Convention
Three National Capacity Building Workshops on TIR Convention were organized by Economic cooperation Organization (ECO) and International Road Transport Union (IRU) Secretariats in collaboration with Ministry of Commerce at Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad according to the following Schedule:
Karachi: 18 August 2014 at Pearl Continental hotel, Karachi
Lahore: 20 August 2014 at Pearl Continental Hotel, Lahore
Islamabad: 22 August 2014 at Marriott Hotel, Islamabad
2. The workshops were attended by 54 persons including the foreign delegates at Karachi, 64 persons at Lahore and 46 persons at Islamabad. Chief Guests for the events were:
Karachi: Mr. S. M. Munir, Chief Executive, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, Karachi
Lahore: Engr. Sohail Lashari, President, Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Lahore
Islamabad: Mr. Fazal Abbas Maken. Additional Secretary-I, Ministry of Commerce, Islamabad
3. All events commenced with recitation of Holy Quran. Foreign delegates and local participants of the Workshop were welcomed by Mr. Javaid Mansoor, Executive Secretary, National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committee, Karachi
4. Mr. Altaf Asghar, Deputy Secretary General in his opening statement explained that, as a Pakistani, he realized the necessity of special arrangement tailored to the specific needs and situation of Pakistan to facilitate its accession to TIR Convention. Therefore he negotiated with IRU, which is administering the only existing and well-functioning guaranteeing chain of TIR Convention, an exceptional arrangement of holding workshops in three major cities of Pakistan to enable the broad nationwide awareness of benefits of acceding to the TIR Convention, and ways and means to implement it. He felt confident that these workshops would be successful in generating the desired amount of interest among the stakeholders in formulating effective and practical steps towards implementation of TIR Convention in Pakistan and contribute to integration of Pakistan into regional and international transit transport system. His complete statement is attached as Annex-I.
5. During the inaugural address the chief guests at all the workshops stated that it is the declared policy of the Government of Pakistan to improve its regional connectivity and facilitate trade with the regional countries, especially ECO countries, many of which are landlocked. For trade through land transport, the TIR Conventions plays a very important role by providing the transit countries with the required guarantees under TIR Carnet system to cover the Customs duties and taxes at risk, and is great facilitator of transit trade. The Government of Pakistan has been considering for some time accession to TIR Convention and is now at a stage where the accession is likely to take place soon. They welcomed the initiative taken by ECO Secretariat in collaboration with IRU to organize these Capacity Building Workshops at Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, and thanked ECO and IRU Secretariats and the team of foreign experts and delegates who had come to Pakistan to explain the salient features of TIR Convention and the measures to be adopted for its implementation. Text of the speech of Mr. Fazal Abbas Maken, Additional Secretary-I, Ministry of Commerce is attached as Annex-II.
6. The inaugural address was followed by a short video of the “ECO Silk Road Truck Caravan” successfully implemented in 2010 in partnership with IRU. The caravan had covered about 12,000 km during 25 days across Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey and provided opportunity to make observations and estimate the role of the road transport to interconnect remote markets, identify main physical and non-physical barriers, and promote implementation of international trade and road transport facilitation instruments.
8. Mrs. Tatiana Rey-Bellet, TIR-EPD Project Manager, IRU then presented General overview of TIR System. She stated that TIR Convention was presently signed by 68 countries with possibility of implementation multi-modally i.e. through road-rail, road-sea and road-air. Six Pillars of TRI system were:
- Secure vehicles or containers
- International guarantee
- TIR Carnet
- Mutual recognition of Customs controls
- Controlled access
9. She explained how the lengthy procedures required without TIR system are simplified by the use of TIR system. Under TIR system the vehicles are required to meet strict technical standards. An international chain of guarantees involving IRU, International Financial Institution, National Guaranteeing Organization and National Financial Institution ensure that the risks for loss of revenue by Customs organization of the transit country ore covered. The procedure for implementation of TIR Carnet system and the developments taking place for development of iCarnet were also explained. This was then followed by a short movie showing the working of TIR Carnet.
6. Ms. Nazife Bulut, TIR Insurance and Legal Affairs Officer, IRU then explained the TIR main actors, and their roles and responsibilities. UNECE was responsible for the matters relating to TIR Convention. The United Nations mandates the IRU based on Article 6.2 bis of the Convention to take on the responsibility for the effective organisation and functioning of an international guarantee system. IRU was responsible for Risk Management, Facilitate Training and Problem Resolution Assistance. Customs authorities were responsible for implementing all provisions of TIR Convention, including approval of TIR vehicles, providing SafeTIR termination data and application of risk management procedures. The National Guaranteeing Association has to act as guarantor for persons using the TIR procedure, train TIR Carnet holders and ensure all Carnet requirements are fulfilled. The TIR Carnet holder has to perform all TIR transports in conformity with the TIR Convention & IRU rules.
7. Mr. Adrian Abu then spoke on “Importance of TIR System for ECO Member States”. He informed that out of nearly 3 million TIR Carnets issued during 2013 25% were issued to ECO TIR holders. 63% of these terminated in ECO countries, 29% in Europe and 8% in other countries. China was actively considering acceding to TIR Convention. At present main difficulties in development of international road transport in ECO region were:
- Visa formalities
- Lack of streamlined procedures to ensure safety and security
- Border crossing infrastructure
- Illegal actions by officials
- Lack of bilateral or multilateral transport permits
Use of TIR Carnets would greatly facilitate international road transport in ECO region.
8. Mr. Babar Badat, Chairman TIR Commission of Pakistan then spoke on “Trade and International Transport of Pakistan. He stated that Pakistan has a geographical advantage in the region. Its Ports can provide the closest access to the logistics requirements of these 250 million people. It should urgently pursue the ratification of the TIR Convention to facilitate regional trade. The Government should support the development of the country’s international Freight Forwarding Industry. It should urgently pursue the implementation of the “Trucking modernization policy.” The national logistics industry should connect at the regional level with their counterparts, and Integrated Transit Trade System should be developed to open & develop specific regional vents. The most critical issue faced by the country’s logistics industry is that there was no focal point or Ministry dealing with logistics or transport issues, the industry is spread over 7 Federal Ministries making it difficult to coordinate the activities for any cohesive & productive action. He proposed the following way forward:
- Ratification and Accession to international conventions including the TIR Convention.
- Negotiation and implementation of transit and transport agreements.
- Simplification and harmonization of trade procedures.
- Efficient customs procedures for transit traffic.
- Physical connectivity.
- Modern transports and logistics services.
- Interconnection of customs data exchange between Pakistan and the other regional countries.
- Single point for all logistics & transport issues “Ministry of Logistics, Freight Transport & Ports.
9. Mr. Max EE, Senior Transport Specialist USAID Trade Project in Afghanistan then spoke on “TIR in Trade Facilitation for the Region”. With the help of maps he explained the various trade corridors in the region and potential of Pakistan in the region. He showed the statistics of increasing numbers of TIR Carnets issued by Central Asian countries over the years and pointed out that the recent re-activation of TIR Convention by Afghanistan and expected accession of the Convention by Pakistan will greatly facilitate the trade with Central Asian countries through Pakistan and Afghanistan. He pointed out the challenges of TIR re-activation in Afghanistan and stated that the following implementation actions were being taken:
- Accession to Convention for the Contract of International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR)
- Revision of national legislation
- Introduction of truck specifications according to international standards
- Capacity building of stakeholders
- Optimization of admission process for TIR Carnet holders
11. Primary objective of all parties in TIR System is to eensure correct termination of a TIR operation and to establish, as fast as possible, if termination did not occur & react to eliminate further risk. Key element for efficient and successful management of TIR claims is that exchange of information between the different parties involved in TIR claims must be fast and accurate. If a TIR Operation is not discharged, Customs shall carry out an inquiry – including notification and request for payment of Customs debt from debtor(s), issue notification of non-discharge to holder and Association and issue payment request to holder and Association.
12. Mr. Tariq M. Rangoonwala, Chairman PNC-ICC then spoke on “Role of PNC-ICC in the TIR system in Pakistan”. The PNC-ICC’s role in the TIR system upon becoming IRU’s Associate Member in Pakistan in February 2005 was to implement the TIR Convention in Pakistan by having relevant and effective stakeholders within its membership and commission structures and facilitate its smooth implementation as the National Guaranteeing and Issuing Organization. Its most important role is bringing within one platform in its commission membership relevant organizations and stakeholders in Pakistan engaged in transit transport movements as sector relevant effective stakeholders. He emphasized that, even after accession, implementation is only possible with enabling national laws and provisions which need to be evolved. These enabling laws and provisions especially in the context of transit transport movements have to be developed in conjunction with the Pakistan Customs/ Federal Board of Revenue and other important relevant authorities in Pakistan. In this context the PNC-ICC has already executed an MOU with the Directorate General of Training and Research (DGTR), Pakistan Customs on 27th October 2012 and formed a Joint Task Force on TIR Automation headed by a Customs IT official. The Customs IT system has made the necessary provisions in cooperation with the Joint Task Force on TIR Automation for having in place the necessary portals within the Customs IT system to not only be able to implement but also automate the TIR system upon its implementation in Pakistan.
13. Mrs. Tatiana Rey-Bellet discussed “IRU’s IT risk management tools and their use by the ECO Member States”. To address increased risk for TIR guarantee chain due to high increase in trade volumes and TIR transport, the Administrative Committee for TIR Convention adopted in October 1995 a Recommendation which set out an electronic control system for TIR Carnets. Consequently in August 2006 this control system – SafeTIR was included in the TIR Convention as Annex 10. Use of SafeTIR procedures enables TIR Carnet status control, instant transmission of SafeTIR data, and SafeTIR data reconcilliation. This results in ssimplification and higher safety of Customs procedures for facilitation of international trade. She then explained in detail the global use of Safe TIR system and its procedures. Its advantage to Customs was that there was no need of manual data entry. Automatic validity check was carried out against IRU data base. The transport operators do not have to use the services of brokers and confidentiality of their data is maintained. She also explained the TIR-EPD Green Lane system, which has also been introduced.
14. Mrs. Tatiana Rey-Bellet then explained the new UNECE-IRU eTIR Pilot Project. Its objective is to conduct, in the short term, a paper-less TIR procedure between two pilot countries, on the basis of investments already made and at minimal costs. It is to be the first (simplified but yet realistic) step towards the implementation of a fully functional eTIR system, as described in the eTIR Reference Model.
15. Ms. Nazife Bullet then spoke on “Accession to TIR Convention by a country: how to proceed?” She stated that a State willing to accede to the TIR Convention must undertake the national legal procedure to be able to join an international Treaty and deposit the instrument of accession to the UN Secretary General in New York. She detailed the following practical steps by the concerned authorities for Pakistan to accede and implement TIR Convention:
- Designation of Competent Authorities responsible for the TIR Convention
- Designation of the Pakistani Authorities responsible for the approval of road vehicles (Article 12 of the TIR Convention)
- PNC-ICC to be authorized by the Competent Authorities to be the national issuing and guaranteeing association of TIR Carnets in Pakistan (Article 6 and Annex 9 Part I of the TIR Convention)
- Signing by PNC-ICC of the Deed of Guarantee with the Pakistani Customs Authorities
- Signing by PNC-ICC of all IRU’s contractual documents
- Establishment of a National Authorisation Committee to select transport companies authorised to use TIR Carnets
- Publication of a list of Customs offices approved for performing TIR operations (Article 45 of TIR Convention)
- Awareness campaign for Customs officials in the functioning of the TIR System
- Implementation of IRU IT risk management tools (RTS / TIR-EPD)
- TIR training for PNC-ICC staff
- Selection and admission of TIR Carnets Holders to the TIR System (Annex 9, Part II of the TIR Convention)
- TIR training for PNC-ICC, TIR Holders and Customs officials
- Certificate of insurance and authorisation letter by IRU
- Order by PNC-ICC to be delivered with TIR Carnets
16. Mr. Ghulam Farooq Nabizada representing Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry spoke on “Recent activation of TIR System in Afghanistan; experience of ACCI”. He informed that on 18 October 2010 a MoU was signed between Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (MOTCA) and International Road Transport Union (IRU), and TIR Proposed Action Plan including 24 items was submitted to MOTCA for reactivation of TIR in Afghanistan. This Action Plan included all practical steps explained in the previous presentation. After taking the necessary practical steps TIR System has been reactivated. However, the following challenges were being experienced in its smooth implementation: • Very limited number of TIR Carnet Holders • Only three banks offer cargo insurance • Customs officers at border unsure about the documentation • Companies have rudimentary understanding of TIR system, need financing to invest in new secure trucks and are unfamiliar with costing for international shipments • Drivers have poor knowledge of geography, border crossing and routes, face visa restrictions and risk of abandoning cargo in foreign countries
17. During the workshop at Islamabad on 22 August 2014 Mr. Fazal Abbas Maken, Additional Secretary-I, Ministry of Commerce stated that agreement of stakeholders has been obtained to proceed with accession to TIR Convention. A summary on the subject for submission to the Cabinet is being prepared. It is expected that after its submission a decision of the Cabinet for accession to TIR Convention will be received soon. Instrument of accession to TIR convention will then be submitted to the office of the Secretary General of the United Nations through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On receipt of acceptance of accession necessary actions for implementation of TIR Convention will be initiated.
18. Mrs. Zukhra Abishev, Program Officer (DTC), ECO spoke on “Implementation of TTFA and promotion of accession to/implementation of international legal instruments facilitating transit transport”. She pointed out that ECO region consisting of ten member countries of the central and western Asia occupies 5.3% of total world land area and with 430 million population (2011), enjoys 6.2 % of total world population, has the high potential of mass movement of cargo/passeng.er. The region lies at the heart of the main North-South and East-West corridors. Length of asphalted roads is exceeding 550,000 km. Length of railways is exceeding 52,000 km). To facilitate trade among ECO member countries Transit Transport Framework Agreement (TTFA) has been signed; and a special mechanism and fund have been established to coordinate, support and monitor the implementation of the TTFA. A number of Committees have been established under Transit Transport Coordination Council (TTCC). She described the work being done by these Committees under provisions of TTFA, the activities of ECO/IDB Joint Project on implementation of TTFA and the role of ECO in promoting and facilitating the accession of its member states to important international conventions and agreements in the field of transport , in close cooperation with the relevant international organizations and institutions
19. At conclusion of the workshops participants acknowledged the role of ECO and IRU Secretariat and Ministry of Commerce in the conduct of these workshops which created awareness of the requirements for implementation of TIR Convention to enable the stakeholders in Pakistan make necessary preparations for its implementation when Pakistan accedes to it. The participants recommended that:
1. Pakistan should accede to TIR Convention at the earliest;
2. Pakistan may consider establishing a Transport Ministry for all modes of transport;
3. Infrastructure development at border crossings under a public-private partnership may be among priorities of the said Ministry similar to the successful “Landlord policy” in the port sector;
4. Pakistan may finalize and implement the Trucking Policy to strengthen this important logistics sector;
5. TIR Commission of Pakistan in consultation with the relevant government authorities may finalized all requirements and arrangements for issuing the TIR Carnet;
6. Pakistan Customs may introduce necessary amendments in its Rules for accepting the TIR Carnet;
7. Pakistan Customs may implement (i) National Single Window, followed by (ii) Regional Single Window;
8. Pakistani transporters may prepare their vehicles for meeting the requirements of TIR System;
9. On accession of TIR Convention by Pakistan, IRU may arrange training of Customs officials for issuing and guaranteeing Association and transporters in Pakistan for compliance with requirement of TIR system and Convention.