Saudi Arabia joins TIR eyeing regional trade boost

Customs clearances through Saudi Arabia to become faster following TIR ratification.
A general view shows cargo containers at the Jeddah Islamic Port off the Red Sea.
AFPGetty Images
A general view shows cargo containers at the Jeddah Islamic Port off the Red Sea.

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become the 74th country to ratify the TIR Convention.

The Saudi government will use the TIR system to help improve and develop its transport sector, as outlined in its 2030 Vision and 2020 National Transformation Program, positioning the country as a key logistics hub.

More than 30% of global trade crosses the Red Sea, but Saudi Arabia has traditionally lost out on goods transiting through Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the wider Middle East because of an inefficient port and customs sector.

Only 5.8% of Saudi exports go to its GCC neighbours, compared to more than 40% for the UAE. Saudi Arabia hopes to redress this through the TIR, which the GCC has collectively committed to join.

Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE are already signatories, and Bahrain and Oman are set to join soon.

“Saudi Arabia’s ratification is an important milestone in dramatically increasing and securing trade flows across the GCC, as well as the rest of the Arab world and beyond,” said Umberto de Pretto, IRU secretary general.

Umberto de Pretto, IRU secretary general.

“I’m delighted to welcome Saudi Arabia into the global TIR family of nations and look forward to working closely with the Saudi authorities to swiftly implement the system,” he added.

Saudi Arabia joins major trading nations, including Pakistan, China and India, that have recently ratify TIR. TIR transits began operating last week across the China-Russia border, and last month between Pakistan and Iran.

TIR is the only global customs transit system. It guarantees the payment of customs duties and taxes, and makes border crossings faster, more secure and more efficient, reducing transport costs, and boosting trade and development.

GCC transport and trade prospects will take centre stage at the 2018 IRU World Congress in Muscat, Oman, this November, including a focus on new intermodal corridors that connect Africa, Asia and Europe via GCC countries using the TIR system.

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