ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has struck a deal with the federal government over the customs issue, a KRG official said on Monday. A delegation from Baghdad arrived in Erbil on Monday to formalize the agreement.
“Together with the [Iraqi] customs delegation we signed an agreement for the removal of the customs points between us and we will raise it to the Iraqi government to implement it,” Samal Abdulrahman, head of the Kurdistan Region’s Customs Department, told Rudaw.
“The Iraqi customs delegation will stay in Erbil to finalize and draft new customs fees for Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.”
Baghdad imposed tariffs on goods brought into Iraq from the Kurdistan Region – slapping fees on products made in the Kurdistan Region and a second fee on those items brought in from Turkey via the Kurdistan Region. Erbil controls the borders with Turkey and imposes its own customs tariffs, but Baghdad has called for the international border to come under federal jurisdiction.
Business operators who do trade between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq and residents in the disputed territories caught in the middle have complained about extra tariffs imposed at the internal border. The two sides have had a number of meetings and reached an initial agreement for a single system. The KRG’s tariffs are lower than those imposed by Iraq, Abdulrahman explained, “therefore, the Kurdistan Region’s tariff has been used as a basis for introducing a new unified tariff. We will try to organize the tariff in a way that will be in the interests of businessmen and people.” The bulk of the disputed areas came back under federal control in October 2017 when Iraqi forces pushed into the regions. The road to Kirkuk was closed for months and high tariffs were introduced when it finally reopened.