Vladimir Florea – Russia hinders as it can the development of transport in the Black Sea region

After the 19th General Assembly of the Union of Road Transport in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Region, held in Bucharest, there are some questions and some challenges. For example: the reactionary, conservative role of the Russian Federation in the organization, through the Russian member association, called ASMAP. We conducted an interview on these topics with BSEC-URTA Chairman, the Bessarabian Vladimir Florea, which is his third mandate at the head of the union.

You, as a representative of the carriers association in the Republic of Moldova, are at the crossroads of two great interests in the organization of the West and East, in a sore spot. On the one hand, there is Romania and Turkey, an EU member but also a non-member, economically in full development, and on the other hand, Russia. From this point of view, which is the biggest challenge faced by BSEC-URTA?

 

Today, everyone is looking for delivery market, and carriers. Currently, for all inEurope, the priority is the market where goods are imported. Bad or good, but that is the Russian market. There is also theTurkeyancillary market, which, goods come largely through its ports fromChinaand that are delivered toRussia, and into northernEurope. Ports ofTurkeyplay a strategic role. In this respect,Moldovais truly a bridge between these two parts of the Mediterranean,Black Seaand the Russian market. Today, it depends a lot on how the bridge works and geopolitically,Moldovahas the role of hub between East and West, with one foot in the CIS and other foot and interests in the Balkans. It is also my role as moderator, as Chairman of BSEC-URTA…

… as moderator, as interface, as depreciation cushion between these interests …

 

For example, carriers inTurkeyare very aggressive in every market. We can take lessons from them. They are a large market. But there are also small markets, likeMoldova,Serbia,Bulgaria, which have opposed interests to Turks. We set out some market mechanisms to combine these interests. Like, for example, the barriers that we have on crossing one state to another. Waiting times in the borders are the main problem. We proposed and promote the transition from bilateral transport licenses to multilateral transport licenses.

What are these licenses?

 

In theBlack Searegion, more than 120 types of permits and licenses work. Our goal was to move to a system that would pass from a crossing permit to several crossing permits, then to move from this permit to a multilateral transit permit. That is, you won’t need a transit permit in each country. Ultimately, we aim to reach a unified system that will enable any carrier of aBSEC-URTAMemberStateto run unobstructed, with a BSEC permit valid in allBlack Seacountries. Second, theBlack Seacountries signed a memorandum to facilitate international transport by forming a system that would enable the carriers not to need short-term visa. Do not forget that theBlack Searegion is a complex area from all points of view. There are wars, conflicts, and the European community, which has its rules,Turkey, which has a special status. There is alsoAzerbaijan,Georgia,Moldova, in which visa is needed and generally, in the area you need a visa to any country, evenRomania. Our goal was to write a memorandum, which currently is signed only by four of these states, which could enable the establishment of a tracking system for drivers. Companies receive visas for five years and appear in a record…

E-customs system could reduce the bribe

therefore you show at the border, let’s say, between Armenia and Georgia, you submit the passport and you are identified immediately and then you pass.

In this area, as shown by a research institution in theNetherlands, up to 30 million euros are spent for visas. For all carriers in theBlack Sea.

There is another matter. In Ukraine, there are about seven stamps and signatures. If you want by the book, it takes one day; you are on the waiting list. If you „greet”, it lasts one hour. In Kazakhstan, at best, it costs you $ 100 and you do not pass until you pay. Officially, you have nothing to pay. Drivers prefer to give bribes, to pass.

The main problem is the man. If the customs system is automated, the job goes well and quickly, without bribes, because it eliminated the human factor. I have an example fromMoldova. It is the first of the non-EU countries in which, on April 20, the preventive goods declaration system was introduced electronically and secondly, the Safe TRUCK system was introduced online, in the ASICUDA 2 complex system, which formalizes electronically all procedures. Giving bribe has become very difficult. Here, for example inMoldovais that X-ray facility, with which you can control the content of trucks. It costs money. Faster – slower, pass – you don’t pass. It depends a lot on us, the carriers, whether or not we give this requested bribe. On the other hand, we need accurate statistics about what money is given to customs, for which we need to have bills and submit to the Customs Committee of theBlack Seacountries with this specific data.

Russia hinders BSEC-URTA projects

What is the opinion of Russia, by ASMAP – ARTRI counterpart in the Russian Federation, against the BSEC-URTA projects, to streamline traffic in the Black Sea countries?

Unfortunately, I would say that it is clearly negative.

Namely, what’s hindering?

In this case, they all wish to enter the Russian market and to protect their market. From my point of view, they protect it too primitively. All limitations imposed by them are harming not only us but also the Russian market. Not even the idea of universal BSEC license is supported by them. Unfortunately, their position is negative to other projects. They say: „We defend our position to limit the flow of external transport throughRussia”.

They believe they have more to gain from the current system.

 

They dictate the situation, because goods are not imported fromRussia, but from third countries. The remaining 75% comes from other states. They do not give third license as easily as before, but only for certain states and CMT, i.e. universal licenses were limited to half for Russian carriers, and others.Moldova, for example, makes 75% of external transport with such license. Currently, the main subject at any international meeting is the position ofRussiaand the position of other countries onRussia, on this issue.

ASMAP did not honor BSEC-URTA General Assembly in Bucharest

Thus, it appears that there is a unity of views between the ASMAP position and the Russian Federation one?

 

No, it coincides. This is not their fault but it is our fault that they have a monopoly in the market and we have underdeveloped economies. Russian carriers have no interest to leave the country. They have so large distances in the country that they no longer need it. They would like us to make our transport by rail throughRussia. This is a mistake. ASMAP did not come even here, inBucharest.

Why a mistake? Because rail transport is rigid? Because small local carriers must take the goods from wagons or containers and deliver it locally by small Russians operators?

It is correct, but there is another much simpler explanation: EU White Paper established as a priority, the development of rail transport and, unfortunately, there is the Romanian silence on the subject. It is a mistake including ecologically. Rail can not replace many types of international transport of goods between countries. There are no adequate storage capacities. The European Commission says everywhere that it is know-how for transport inEurope, but it’s incomprehensible. One of the current IRU priorities is that road transport can not be replaced today with anything. It must be supported as environmental standards. Now, Euro 6 will be entered. IfMoldovahas to solve this in a year, it should bring to the Euro 6 standards 80,000 trucks, belonging to transport companies of our association.Moldovais the ninth place in the IRU ranking on the Truck system.

Solution to eliminate bribes – Customs computerization

In Giurgiulesti, where you leave EU as, for example, in Lesovo, Bulgaria…

As in Leuseni and Albita.

What are the causes and what is doing BSEC-URTA?

The first cause is that when crossing from Romania and Moldova and not only in this border from one EU state to one non-EU state, the checking system of freight carried by X-ray visualization devices is implemented. Between customs inRomania-Moldovathere is an agreement that these checks are to be made at half of the transports. Thus, it controls half of the transports at the entry inMoldovaand same at the exit fromRomania. The Romanian party has worked now, for example, two weeks ago and stopped and is working only the Moldovan part and waiting time at border is between 26 to 28 hours. I won’t add anything more.

You were talking about electronic declaration of goods. Before Gheorghe from the Romanian company reaches the Giurgiulesti customs, to the passage Giurgiulesti – Reni, to enter Ukraine, the company sends the standard form to the customs, by e-mail. Gheorghe reaches Giurgiulesti. The Moldavian official said he received nothing and then the Romanian truck driver is required to give money and buy the same form from Romtrans Office, and to fill it again. It costs money. There is the suspicion, but no certainty for the customs official to have an agreement with the Romtrans Office. 

It is known: where you have a wedding, there are gypsies. Where’s money, there are servants. Seven EU countries have introduced this statement. We (theRepublicofMoldova) andGeorgiaas well. Without money, in principle, this procedure shall be made. What you said is correct.

This happens also in Giurgiulesti and as far as I know, at the exit of Bulgaria, through Lesovo, for example.

There, it’s more often. This problem, that customs officials have an agreement with companies that issue these forms, is solved (he already told me his point of view) mechanically, by computerized systems. Had it been only this problem… to cross the Turkish ports, you have to pay tip. Things are constantly changing. What happened two months ago, now it is quite different. These are the transports. All these things can be solved only jointly.

The latest trend is negative, because the international situation does not encourage trade in times of crisis.

Furthermore: many carriers leave the business. It became dangerous to work. Bandits reappeared inRussia. At this time, we did not answer many of the questions that arise from changing the international environment.

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