Kurdistan and Iraq unify customs tariffs to facilitate commercial trade
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq’s new proposed tax and tariff system officially came into effect on Sunday at all border crossings as Baghdad removed domestic customs points in the Kirkuk and Nineveh provinces.
The new system includes a 27-point guideline, printed in both Kurdish and Arabic, laying out the details of the new taxation process.
The rules were agreed upon by both Erbil and Baghdad after their respective governments formed committees to unify their separate procedures and address challenges facing commercial trade and shipments of goods in the country.
The KRG and the federal government had differing tax and tariff system and the Iraqi one was viewed as inefficient for today’s trade demands in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, Samal Abdulrahman, Director-General of the Kurdistan Region’s Customs, told reporters on Sunday during a press conference. As a result, the two sides agreed to implement a new system put forward by the KRG to help standardize the movement of goods.
Abdulrahman stated the new procedures would be applied at all border points and will boost trade and economic growth.
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 eliminate 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.
Following tensions arising 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, charging fees on products brought to the area from the Kurdish region.
Over the past few months, people in the disputed province of Kirkuk increasingly voiced their concerns about 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 Nadia Riva