Kurdistan reinstates border customs fees, earlier suspended to promote trade amid COVID-19 outbreaks
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region’s General Customs Directorate announced on Friday that it had issued a decision to begin again to charge customs fees for all goods and products being brought in through its border crossings.
Though the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) began to limit passenger travel through its borders in February as part of a series of preventive measures aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, it has largely maintained commercial traffic and trade.
Fearing that the economic ramifications of the international responses to the highly-contagious disease might cause extreme shortages of essential goods in the autonomous region, KRG officials temporarily halted all customs fees on incoming goods to encourage imports.
Friday's decision overturned that, declaring that now, “any imported goods or merchandise will not be exempted from the collection of customs duties.”
The move comes one day after Kurdistan Region Health Minister Saman Barzinjy said that the regionwide curfew would be lifted in phases, but warned that COVID-19 remains a significant public health threat.
It added, “All goods and shipments will be subjected to full inspection and processing to prevent spillover of the coronavirus to the region, then charged with customs duties, after which they will be allowed to enter the Kurdistan Region.”
Waiving the fees is just one effect of the coronavirus that has contributed to a sharp drop in the region’s revenue, others being spiralling international oil prices, a partial government shutdown, and the suspension of commercial flights.
Editing by John J. Catherine