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How do we boost the efficiency and security of transit? IRU and WCO Secretaries General weighed the available options.
Global | Geneva

Transit in 2024: IRU and WCO look to tried-and-tested solutions

14 Jun 2024 · Prosperity

How do we boost the efficiency and security of transit? IRU and WCO Secretaries General weighed the available options.

In a meeting in Geneva this week, IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto and World Customs Organization (WCO) Secretary General Ian Saunders discussed measures to streamline border-crossing procedures for the benefit of world economies.

IRU highlighted that the TIR system is a concrete and legally binding mechanism that supports key frameworks such as the Revised Kyoto Convention and WCO’s SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade with security, risk-based facilitation, transparency, mutually recognised documentation and procedures, and transport operators authorised by customs authorities.

TIR, the only global transit system, is widely used given its cost and time saving benefits. It speeds up border crossing times by up to 92% and cuts costs by up to 50%. 

These cost and time savings are made possible by the security of the TIR system.

The Secretaries General recognised that inefficient border processes significantly harm trade, particularly highlighting how Africa would benefit from TIR. Border delays, which sometimes exceed three weeks, are directly correlated with GDP per capita across Sub-Saharan Africa.

A 2016 IRU study focusing on four major African transit corridors had found that TIR can lead to cost reductions of over USD 1,200 solely due to the difference in the price of the guarantee. But reduced border crossing times will have a much greater impact on GDP and the cost of trade.

According to a 2021 World Bank study on trade corridors in Africa, “the economic benefits of road corridor upgrades are doubled and more widely spread when combined with measures to reduce current massive border delays”. 

Many border crossings along key transit corridors are experiencing unprecedented border delays. Trucks and drivers are stuck at borders for two to three weeks at a time. Such record delays, queues and waiting times have not been seen for decades.

IRU stressed that we have the tried-and-tested tools and know-how to significantly reduce border crossing times. It’s a matter of investing in harmonised trade and transit procedures, services and tools.

TIR training modules for customs officers are available on the WCO Academy

Ian Saunders appreciated IRU’s active participation in the WCO Private Sector Consultative Group. The Secretaries General expressed their eagerness to expand cooperation and partnership between the two organisations.