Saudi Arabia on road to implementing customs transit system

A workshop held in the Saudi capital has discussed the country’s plan to adopt a global customs transit system.

A delegation from the International Road Transport Union (IRU) attended the workshop, which was held in Riyadh and hosted by the Saudi Customs.

“The workshop was held in connection with the decision of the Kingdom to accede to and implement the global transit system for moving goods across regional and international borders expected in 2017,” Rani Wehbe, IRU senior adviser for the Middle East, told Arab News by phone from Beirut on Friday.

Wehbe also said that Umberto de Pretto, secretary-general, led the IRU delegation that visited the Kingdom and attended the workshop. Wehbe was also with the delegation.

Present in 100 countries, the IRU leads solutions to help the world move better, supporting trade, economic growth, job safety, the environment and communities.

De Pretto said in a statement that the “workshop demonstrates the seriousness with which the Saudi Customs approaches accession to TIR.” TIR, which stands for Transport Internationaux Routier, is the world’s only global customs transit system.

He added that the IRU is highly motivated to facilitate knowledge-sharing and to help generate a clear understanding of the TIR system.

He also said that “our aim is to communicate its simplicity, efficacy and compelling capability to transform the region’s trade potential.”

The statement also quoted Saudi Customs Director General Ahmed Al-Hakbani as saying that the Kingdom is one of the most important transit countries in the region and confirmed the decision to begin TIR implementation this year.

Wehbe said that the workshop offered insights and guidance on the application of the TIR system to improve trade facilitation.

“The system is a very important tool for implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which came into force in February 2017. The Kingdom had previously ratified the TFA in August 2016,” he said.

He added that the workshop also provided awareness and highlighted the key benefits of the system for Saudi Arabia among the pertinent stakeholders.

“It also discussed the practical aspects of accession and implementation,” Wehbe said.

The participants in the workshop unanimously acknowledged the advantages and benefits of the TIR, gaining an understanding of how Saudi Arabia’s accession and implementation of the TIR Convention will facilitate trade in a secure manner through seamless intermodal transit connectivity.

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The IRU has since 1949 been mandated by the UN Economic Commission for Europe to manage the TIR system.