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The International Road Transport Union (IRU) has agreements with China’s economic planner and its customs agency to boost TIR uptake in “Belt & Road” countries.

By collaborating with Customs of China and the National Development and Reform Commission on the standardisation of international legal and regulatory frameworks, the IRU hopes to increase trade along Belt & Road countries by 1.4%.

Secretary general of the IRU Umberto de Pretto said the union had been a strong supporter of Belt & Road and believed implementing TIR could “unleash” its road transport potential.

“The message of the initiative is a powerful mandate that we share at IRU,” said Mr de Pretto. “Trade drives progress.”

Despite bordering 14 countries, China’s road transport currently accounts for only 10% of international goods transit, and Mr de Pretto said this represented “vast untapped potential”.

He added that by acceding to TIR, countries along the route could save up to 80% of transport time and 30% in transport costs, equivalent to $13.5bn or a 1.4% increase in trade.

Administered by the IRU, the UN’s TIR convention allows goods to be outlined in a TIR Carnet and sealed in cargo compartments. Customs verify the carnet and check the seals, with no need for physical checking of the contents.

This enables trucks to pass through countries without being opened at borders, cutting customs clearance from days to hours.

It was only last July that China joined six of its neighbours, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia and Tajikistan, in acceding to the TIR Convention.

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