ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq removed all the domestic customs points between the autonomous Kurdistan Region and areas administered by the federal government on Saturday after a recent agreement to unify customs procedures on the nation's border crossings.
Iraqi authorities announced on Friday evening that they would begin consolidating customs procedures with the Kurdistan Region at all border gates as of Saturday and cancel domestic customs points between Erbil and Baghdad.
“The agreement includes the unification of all practices and provisions of the customs tariff law and the adoption of customs interpreters in both Arabic and Kurdish languages to work at all border gates,” read the statement released by Iraq’s customs directorate.
Kurdistan 24 Correspondent Soran Kamaran visited the site of customs stations between Erbil and Kirkuk, stating the points had been evacuated by Iraqi federal government staff following Friday’s statement. Trucks were seen passing freely without being stopped and taxed.
Following the tensions between Erbil and Baghdad as a result of the September 2017 independence referendum, the Iraqi government installed several customs points on the Kurdistan Region’s borders, including on roads between Erbil and Kirkuk, Sulaimani and Kirkuk, and Duhok and Mosul, to charge fees on products brought to the area from the Kurdish region.
Over the past few months, people in the disputed province of Kirkuk have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the stations on the Erbil-Kirkuk, and Sulaimani-Kirkuk roads, complaining that not only drivers fell victim to the policies, but the poor as well, who were forced to pay higher retail prices.
Another result of the post-referendum increased reach of Baghdad in the Kurdistan Region is that immigration procedures and computer systems have also been consolidated, with federal immigration officials now having the final say at Kurdistan Region borders and airports for the first time.
Editing by John J. Catherine