An Evil Plot? Iraq's Most Industry-Savvy Province Refuses to Impose Baghdad's New Customs Tax
A new customs tax came into effect in August. But in Basra, one of Iraq's busiest provinces for imports, officials refuse to impose Baghdad's tax, saying its unfair use is damaging business there.
There are over a thousand cars parked in a Kuwaiti port on the Iraqi-Kuwait border. There are another thousand or more parked in the Umm Qasr port on the Iraqi side of the border.
And apparently they are all sitting there because the importers and exporters refuse to pay the newly-imposed Iraqi customs duty, that has come into effect as part of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's package of financial and administrative reforms.
“We have suffered serious financial damages because of the delay in shipping our products from Kuwait,” local businessman, Saleh al-Sharifi, complained to NIQASH. “And we are paying for the costs of these delays.”
Local importers see the duty as unfair. “The new customs tax has only been applied in Basra – specifically in the ports of Umm Qasr and Safwan,” al-Sharifi says.
“Meanwhile it doesn't seem to be being applied in the north in Iraqi Kurdistan. It feels as though there are double standards here. Or maybe the Ministry of Finance only actually has power over the ports of Basra?”
In fact the Iraqi government has already said in the past that it doesn't have control over border crossings in Iraqi Kurdistan.
“We had to ask the officials at the Kuwaiti port to stop allowing imported cars in because we don't have enough space for them in our parking lots,” says a senior official in Safwan, noting that all their car parks are full.