India on Monday ratified the United Nations' TIR Convention (Transports internationaux routiers), a procedure that enables goods in trade to move under customs control across international borders without the payment of duties and taxes, becoming the 71st country to join the convention.
The TIR system is the international customs transit system with the widest geographical coverage. The TIR Convention is more than a transport agreement and has a strong foreign policy element that will help countries to position themselves as regional trading and transit hubs.
Secretary-General of the International Road Union (IRU), which manages the TIR Convention, Umberto de Pretto, said India's accession would have a big impact on regional connectivity.
It will help India and its neighbouring countries to implement the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement by addressing policy incompatibility among the BBIN group as the TIR obviates the need for bilateral arrangements as guarantors are covered by the global guarantee chain.
It could become a key link between South and South-East Asia, with China, already a TIR member, connecting transit routes to the east of Myanmar, to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and beyond.
It would also help link India to maritime transport routes across the entire Asia-Pacific region, especially when India is following a multi-modal transport strategy that aims to integrate the economy with global and regional production networks.
The TIR would also make it easier for India to service African and Asian markets once the systems are integrated with global norms and the country's new infrastructure projects like Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) are implemented, easing the country's persistent problems of connectivity.
It would also breathe new life into the International North-South Transport Corridor and the Chabahar project that India has been working on for some time.
China joined the TIR in 2016 after the country ramped up its transport infrastructure with some major inter-regional connectivity projects.