United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

25 February 2022

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was founded on 28 March 1947. Today, UNECE, being one of the five regional commissions of the UN, has 56 member states. While its member states are primarily located in Europe; all UN member states can participate in the work of the UNECE. In that regard, various states from Northern America (Canada and the United States of America), Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) as well as Western Asia are member states of UNECE.
UNECE contributes to the economic integration in the European region and to the cooperation among the member states. In addition, UNECE supports achieving the sustainable development and economic prosperity, by facilitating dialogue between countries, negotiation of international legal documents, determination of norms and regulations, as well as exchange of information between countries on issues that require economic and technical expertise and best practices.
Main UNECE Conventions Related to the Duties of the Ministry of Trade:
- Customs Convention on the International Transport of Goods under Cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention), 1975
- International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods, 1982
- Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR), 1956
- Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation of Private Road Vehicles, 1954
- Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation of Commercial Road Vehicles, 1956
- Agreement on the International Carriage of Perishable Foodstuffs and on the Special Equipment to be Used for such Carriage (ATP), 1970
- Customs Convention on Containers, 1972
Main Bodies under the UNECE Related to the Duties of the Ministry of Trade: 

  • Working Party on Customs Questions Affecting Transport (WP.30)
  • Administrative Committee for the TIR Convention, 1975 (AC.2)
  • TIR Executive Board (TIRExB)

TIR Convention, 1975

TIR Convention was first concluded in 1949 by a small number of European countries and its scope had been expanded in 1959 in the form of a Convention. The 1959 Convention was revised again by a Review Conference and opened to the signature of countries in 1975. Today, the Convention of 1975 has 77 Contracting Parties, including Türkiye.

“The TIR System”, which defines the international transit procedure established by the TIR Convention allows the goods to be transported with a TIR Carnet which covers the applicable customs duties and taxes. TIR Carnets, which are accepted as customs declarations, cover these duties and taxes for all the countries where a TIR transport takes place. Thus, the TIR System aims to minimize the bureaucratic costs of the transport sector that occurs during the transport of the goods.

Additionally, in accordance with the principle that is called “controlled access to the system”, TIR transports can only be carried out by the transporters who are authorized to use TIR Carnets. This authorization can be given if the applicant transporters meet the conditions laid out in the Annex 9 of the TIR Convention. In that regard, the TIR System aims to create a sense of trust between the actors of the system. With the “controlled access to the system” principle, it is aimed to minimize the physical customs controls and reduce the time required for the customs clearance procedures.

With the implementation of the concept that strives to digitalize the TIR procedures, called “eTIR”, it will be possible to carry out the procedures for TIR transports in a paperless environment, instead of paper based TIR Carnets. The Annex-11 to the TIR Convention, laying out the legal basis for eTIR, has entered into force with respect to the Contracting Parties on 25 May, 2021. The legal and technical work required to implement eTIR is being carried out actively by the Ministry of Trade.

Significance of the TIR System for Türkiye

Türkiye has been implementing the TIR Convention that has been established by the TIR System which currently has 77 Contracting Parties since 1966. Türkiye, having one of the largest truck fleets in the world, has more than 1600 transport companies that conduct international transports under cover of TIR Carnets.

In this context, TIR Carnets are issued to the TIR Carnet holders by the Union of Chambers and Commodity of Türkiye (TOBB), the national association of the TIR System in Türkiye. Türkiye uses approximately 20-25% of the 1 million TIR Carnets that are printed annually. Our country, having increased the maximum guarantee amount per TIR Carnet to 100.000 € from 60.000 $ since 1 July, 2017, is the largest user of the TIR System. Additionally, our country has a leading role in the processes of the digitalization and the geographic expansion of the TIR System.

For the year 2021, Deputy Director General of International Agreements and European Union, Mr. Osman Nuri BEYHAN has been elected as the Chairman of the decision taking body of the TIR Convention, the Administrative Committee, reinforcing the leading role our country has assumed with regards to the TIR System.

TIR Executive Board (TIRExB) Membership of Turkish Representatives
TIRExB is the body responsible for supervising the central printing and distribution of the TIR Carnets, the operation of the international guarantee and insurance mechanism, as well as for fostering and improving the cooperation between the Customs Administrations and other competent authorities. TIRExB carries out its duties by nine members who are elected by the Contracting Parties during elections held within the Administrative Committee.
The members that have been nominated by Türkiye have been elected since the establishment of the Board in 1999.
Harmonization Convention, 1982

International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods (Harmonization Convention) aims to facilitate international trade and reduce the time spent by the vehicles on border crossing points by minimizing and standardizing the customs procedures.

Türkiye, having completed the ratification process in 2005, has also ratified its Annex 8, titled “Facilitation of Border Crossing Procedures for International Road Transport”, as well as its Annex 9, titled “Facilitation of Border Crossing Procedures for International Rail Freight”.