Russia backs away from rejection of Europe-wide trucking system

GENEVA, June 30 Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:04pm EDT

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GENEVA, June 30 (Reuters) - Russia's Customs Service made a last-minute concession on Monday to stop Russia from being ejected by a U.N.-backed customs system that has expedited European trucking for 60 years.

The TIR system speeds up cross-border trade because it allows trucks to be sealed when they start their journey and to cross multiple borders without undergoing customs checks, saving time and money.

But the system relies on mutual recognition of national trucking bodies, which Russia had jeopardised by announcing that it would replace its national body, ASMAP, with Rostek, a subsidiary of Russian Customs that charged higher fees.

On Monday, the International Road Transport Union, which runs TIR, said Russia's Federal Customs Service had officially extended ASMAP's mandate until Nov. 30. Russia's Customs Service had been under pressure from the Economy, Finance and Transport ministries.

Without ASMAP, European trucks arriving in Russia would have faced higher costs and long waits at the border. But crossing Russia's border is still not likely to be plain sailing straight away, the IRU said.

"Considering this very late announcement from the FCS RF (Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation) and the lack of available details, practical problems are still likely to take place at border-crossing points in Russia over the next few days," the IRU said in a statement. ($1 = 33.9599 Russian Rubles) (Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Larry King)

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