EghtesadOnline: Iran and Azerbaijan have agreed to implement an e-TIR Pilot project for making transit operations fully electronic between the two countries as of May 31, 2019.
This is based on an agreement signed between Mehdi Mir-Ashrafi, the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, and Deputy Chairman of State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan Safar Mehdiyev last week in Baku, ISNA reported.
Last month, a meeting was held in the Astara District of Azerbaijan between the customs authorities of Azerbaijan and Iran, the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan Republic reported.
As part of the procedures regulated by the Customs Convention on the International Transport of Goods under Cover of TIR Carnets, the two countries have agreed to implement the e-TIR Pilot project, according to Financial Tribune.
The meeting focused on promoting computerization through the electronic platforms of customs control over international road transport, along with the customs regulation of international transport using modern electronic methods. The preparation of a bilateral execution plan for coordinating activities in this area was also specified.
The parties discussed the relevant legislative framework for the e-TIR Pilot project, setting a timeframe for commencing the first pilot shipments, establishing technical capabilities and conducting training for customs officers on the use of the electronic system.
Cooperation between the customs authorities of Azerbaijan and Iran in this area will help expand the transit potential of both countries–key figures of the North-South International Transport Corridor and increasing the competitiveness of international transport.
Azerbaijan and Iran signed the basic principles for the e-government of international transport procedures in October 2018 and January 2019, respectively.
Iran has already implemented e-TIR Pilot projects with Turkey and Pakistan. E-TIR system allows the two countries to access all related information at any time and view the information of cargo before delivery, which is useful for both sides, eliminates the risk of deception, accelerates customs formalities and reduces costs.
Economy Minister's Visit to Baku
The customs agreement between Iran and Azerbaijan came as part of a two-day visit of Iran's Economy Minister Farhad Dejpasand to Baku to take part in the 13 iteration of Iran-Azerbaijan Economic Cooperation Commission sessions.
The Iranian minister was accompanied by a delegation of Iranian officials and private sector representatives.
In their Baku meetings, the two sides surveyed ways of expanding their bilateral economic and commercial cooperation in eight specialized committees, namely trade, industries and investments, monetary and banking, customs and border affairs, transportation and transits, energy and environment, agriculture and health, culture, social welfare and humanitarian affairs, and tourism.
According to Dejpasand, there is vast potential for Tehran and Baku to expand cooperation in a host of fields, including monetary affairs and finance, tourism, water, electricity, railroad and agro outsourcing.
Azerbaijan’s Minister of Economic Development Shahin Mustafayev, who co-chaired the joint economic commission meeting in Baku with Dejpasand, said trade between Azerbaijan and Iran increased by 74% in 2018, which is the highest growth in Azerbaijan’s trade with its economic partners during the period.
According to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, trade turnover with Iran in 2018 amounted to $446.03 million, $31.23 million of which accounted for the export of Azerbaijani products to Iran.
The Iranian minister also met with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, Minister of Agriculture Inam Karimov and Governor of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan Elman Rustamov in his two-day visit on March 14-15.
1st Afghan Shipment Under TIR in India via Chabahar
The first shipment from Afghanistan under the TIR Convention through Iran’s Chabahar Port arrived at India’s Nhava Sheva Port in Mumbai and Mundra Port in Gujarat last week.
The TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) is a United Nations Convention that allows goods to be sealed in compartments and requires no need for physical checking of the contents, enabling shipments to pass through countries without being opened at borders.
Welcoming the arrival of the maiden shipment on Monday, Pranab Kumar Das, chairman of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs, Indian Ministry of Finance, said, “The TIR convention will help in the fast and easy movement of goods across multiple countries under a common customs document and guarantee.”
“The reciprocal recognition of customs controls is at the heart of the convention. This enables a facilitative and non-intrusive environment for multimodal transport of goods through several countries," he said.
Secretary-General of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry Dilip Chenoy said TIR will act as a strong catalyst for moving goods using the multimodal transportation route like Chabahar and the International North-South Transport Corridor.
“The system is a win-win-win model for Customs, FICCI and the business community,” he said.
INSTC is a major transit route designed to facilitate the transportation of goods from Mumbai in India to Helsinki in Finland, using Iranian ports and railroads, which the Islamic Republic plans to connect to those of Azerbaijan and Russia.
India joined the TIR Convention (the United Nations Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets) on June 15, 2017.
Secretary-General of International Road Transport Union Umberto Pretto said, “The opening of Chabahar Port for TIR is hugely significant, offering connectivity for landlocked countries, seamless border crossing facilitation and intermodal capabilities."
"It also highlights how TIR has been chosen by these three countries as a key tool to help activate the Chabahar transport agreement. The operation will definitely open the door for the activation of other intermodal corridors such as International North-South Transport Corridor–connecting India to Central Asia, Russia and eventually Europe,” Pretto added.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration started intermodal transportation under cover of TIR carnets in November 2017.
Two sealed containers were transferred from Slovenia to Italy by road before being shipped to Turkey to enter Iran via the railroad border of Razi in West Azarbaijan Province and then to Sahlan Customs Department in East Azarbaijan. From there, the containers were trucked to Shahid Rajaee Port in the southern city of Bandar Abbas.