Pressure grows on hauliers at borders in Black Sea region as traffic increases

Source: The Loadstar
Date: 8th May 2024

Congestion and delays faced by truck drivers in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) region are being exacerbated by increased traffic from geopolitical diversions, according to the International Road Transport Union (IRU).

According to the organisation, freight volumes along the middle corridor from China to Europe surpassed 1.6m tonnes between January and August last year. This was an 84% increase on the same period in 2022.

Since then, east-west trade has further been affected by the Red Sea crisis and required transport companies to yet again seek alternative routes.

“New routes have emerged. But they need our support,” urged the IRU.

IRU explained: “The drastic re-direction of cargo flows has put a lot of pressure on borders in the BSEC region. In 2024, corridors crossing the region became even more important for international goods transport.”

IRU highlighted that border crossing issues experienced by hauliers in the BSEC region had become particularly prevalent, adding: “Congestion and long waiting times cause economic losses to the road transport industry.”

At the 43rd meeting of the BSEC Union of Road Transport Associations (URTA) general assembly in Albania, IRU outlined key steps to combat border issues and optimise trade in the region.

“Investment in both hard infrastructure and soft procedures, services and tools are needed to keep up with increasing transit traffic. To ease border delays and reduce costs, we need to accelerate digitalisation – especially with eTIR, but also e-CMR, ePermits and eVisas,” IRU said.

The IRU and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said they were working together to find the fastest way to implement eTIR along key corridors this year.

Some BSEC countries, such as Georgia and Azerbaijan have completed their eTIR integration procedures. Turkey is in the latter stages and expected to complete integration this year.

“I invite all BSEC-URTA countries to start integrating eTIR as soon as possible to start benefiting from it,” said IRU.

“Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Greece are still not part of the BSEC permit system. They should join as quickly as possible. Uzbekistan and Turkey have successfully tested electronic road permits. IRU supports the digitalisation of the BSEC permit and all other permit quota systems,” IRU added.

The Albanian deputy minister of foreign affairs added: “We should further strengthen our work aimed at facilitating border crossings in the region in view of the serious problems truck drivers are facing at borders, such as long queues and the absence of secure truck parking areas with even the most elementary facilities along key transit routes.”

Albania is one of the countries that has implemented the Single Window Project (SWP) to streamline and accelerate border crossings by simplifying transit procedures.

SWP allows an international trader to submit information to a single agency, rather than having to deal with multiple agencies in multiple locations, to obtain the necessary papers, permits and clearances to complete import or export processes.

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