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East-West and West-East rail freight traffic must cross an invisible legal border due to the existence of two different legal regimes. Europe applies the CIM Uniform Rules1 of COTIF (the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail), while Russia, China and further Asian countries apply the Agreement on International Goods Transport by Rail2 (SMGS). The existence of this dual legal regime produces legal insecurity and leads to interruption of freight traffic movement, causing delays, additional costs and administrative burdens for the rail freight carriers. Up to 2006, all rail freight consignments between Europe and Asia were re-consigned as they passed from the CIM to the SMGS. This re-consignment was time-consuming and incurred additional expenses with no value added and sometimes led to incorrect data being entered on documents.
This article first appeared on www.globalrailwayreview.com
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