The European Union has warned that a Russian plan to introduce extra customs requirements for lorries will have severe consequences for its transport industry.
In a letter published Thursday, customs commissioner Algirdas Semeta urges the Russian Customs Service to revise those plans, which if implemented would lead to a “serious disruption of EU-Russia trade flows”.
The Customs Service had announced earlier this month that on August 14 the so-called TIR procedures for road freight entering Russia would be replaced with the rules of the Customs Union formed by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
TIR procedures allow transit goods to move across borders without having to pay duties and taxes.
A statement on the agency‘s website, dated July 5, explains that this was prompted by 20 billion rubles (600 million dollars) of arrears from the Russian Association of International Road Carriers, which implements the TIR procedures.
In his letter to Russian Customs chief Andrei Belyaninov, EU commissioner Semeta complained Brussels had been taken by surprise about the plan. He said Russia should have held consultations on its plans through “the mechanisms foreseen by the TIR convention.”
He added that the decision would violate the three-decade TIR convention on the international transport of goods.
Vladimir Kobzev, the head lawyer of the German Chamber of Commerce in Russia, said that suspending the procedures amounts to a unilateral revocation of the 1975 TIR convention.
According to the EU, the new Russian procedures might include a precise itinerary, financial guarantees or an escort to the final destination.
In an emailed statement, the Commission warned that a result might be massive queues at all border points with Russia, as happened in 2008, when Moscow introduced additional controls without prior notice.
It is not the first time that the EU and Russia have clash on trade matters. Earlier this month, the bloc took action against Russia at the World Trade Organization over a recycling fee that it says is harming car exports.