EghtesadOnline: Two truckers have left Shahid Rajaee Port in the southern Hormozgan Province to Uzbekistan via Afghanistan to mark the first successful TIR pilot operation along the Iran-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan corridor, Mostafa Ayati, an official with the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, said on Monday.
“The new corridor offers an economical and shorter route between Iran and Central Asian countries, and helps promote trade and cooperation among regional countries and improve peace and security in Afghanistan,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“On July 26, the so-called KTAI [Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran] corridor also opened officially following the successful TIR pilot operation of seven trucks from Iran’s southern Port of Shahid Rajaee, which crossed Dogharoun border checkpoint into Afghanistan and then into Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.”
Starting at Shahid Rajaee Port, two TIR trucks proceeded to cross Dogharoun border crossing into Afghanistan, then continued their journey to Tajikistan and then to their final destination Kyrgyzstan.
According to Ayati, with the completion of customs procedure at Dogharoun customs, the KTAI corridor is now officially open for TIR transports.
The new trade route opens up the region to trade and development, enabling freight forwarders and transport operators to benefit from the significant cost and time savings when transporting goods, the International Road Transport Union reported.
According to World Bank reports, the total population of the four countries along the corridor stands at 128 million people and their combined total GDP equals close to half a trillion dollars. The launch of KTAI corridor is designed to tap into these growing markets.
Given the route’s starting point of Shahid Rajaee port, traders and transport operators can also take advantage of the intermodal and digital functions of TIR along the corridor, optimizing trade flows and driving growth in the region.
“The inauguration of KTAI corridor would reduce transit time and costs and strengthen transportation infrastructures; we will witness a gradual increase in trade between regional countries and ECO [Economic Cooperation Organization] member states in particular,” says Behnam Faramarzian, the caretaker of International Transportation and TIR Carnet Department of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.
At present, loading and transportation operations in KTAI corridor are carried out by Afghan truck, as Iranian trucks do not use the Afghanistan route due to a lack of security, Faramarzian said.
“Undoubtedly, we don’t mean to only play the role of forwarding agent here. That would only give us an insignificant share of trade on the KTAI road corridor,” he was quoted as saying by Otaghiranonline.ir.
Faramarzian believes that to involve Iranian truckers in the process, it is better to tap into the contracting model for meeting a portion of operational needs, where both Iranian and foreign road fleet are engaged in transit operations.
“Iranian trailers with Iran TIR carnet could carry the freight up to the border with Afghanistan and then Afghan trucks would move forward with Iran TIR carnet. Such a model of transportation has been stipulated in the TIR convention,” he added.
Noting that the participation of private sector, particularly commerce chambers, is of utmost importance to make the KTAI road corridor more viable, he said, “First, electronic exchange of information between customs and the private sector needs to improve to speed up loading and unloading operations. That’s when we might see a more competitive KTAI corridor compared with other transportation routes like Gwadar Port.”
The Convention on International Transport of Goods Under Cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention) is a multilateral treaty that was concluded in Geneva, Switzerland, on Nov. 14, 1975, to simplify and harmonize the administrative formalities of international road transport. TIR stands for “Transports Internationaux Routiers” or “International Road Transports”.
The TIR system not only covers customs transit by road but a combination is possible with other modes of transport (e.g., rail, inland waterway and even maritime transport), as long as at least one part of the total transport is made by road.
“There are 76 parties to the convention, including China, India, Russia and the European Union. IRICA has managed to conduct e-TIR projects of intermodal transportation in cooperation with Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture with Turkey in the year ending March 2016, Azerbaijan Republic in the year ending March 2020, Slovenia in the year ending March 2018 and the India-Chabahar-Afghanistan project in the year ending March 2020,” Ayati concluded.