By Dipo Olowookere
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced its decision to accede to the global customs transit system for moving goods across international borders, the United Nations TIR Convention, and to make the system operational in 2017.
Due to its strategic location, the KSA is the critical link between the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and the wider Middle Eastern region.
The country’s accession to TIR, with its benefits of seamless cross-border connectivity, will therefore open new road corridors along the spine of the Arabian Gulf – transforming the trade potential of the region.
Saudi Customs hosted IRU – the world’s road transport organisation – (IRU.org) with IRU Secretary General, Umberto de Pretto, in Riyadh this week, at a workshop offering insights and guidance on the application of TIR to streamline trade facilitation.
Ahmed Alhakbani, Director General of Saudi Customs, reinforced that the Kingdom is one of the most important transit countries in the region and he confirmed the decision to begin implementation of TIR this year.
The workshop provided a framework to build awareness among the pertinent stakeholders and to discuss the practical aspects of accession and implementation.
Umberto de Pretto explained that, “This workshop demonstrates the seriousness with which Saudi Customs approaches accession to TIR. IRU is highly motivated to facilitate knowledge-sharing and to help generate a clear understanding of the TIR system. Our aim is to communicate its simplicity, efficacy and compelling capability to transform the region’s trade potential.”
Participants at the workshop unanimously acknowledged the advantages and benefits of TIR, gaining an understanding of how Saudi Arabia’s accession and implementation of the TIR Convention will facilitate trade in a secured manner, with seamless intermodal connectivity.
The TIR workshop supports discussions on improving and developing the transport sector as outlined in the Saudi Arabian Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program 2020, with the objective of positioning Saudi Arabia as a logistics hub linking Asia, Africa and Europe.
Stakeholders from a comprehensive cross-section of both the public and private sectors attended, notably from the Ministries of Transport, and Commerce and Investment, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, the Council of Saudi Chambers, the Saudi Port Authority, customs clearance agencies and a number of leading transport operators.
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