Iraq Customs gets ready for modernization

27 March 2019

At the invitation of the Director General of Iraq Customs, Mr. Mundher Abdulameer Asad Heyer, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya visited Baghdad, Iraq from 24 to 26 March 2019 to complete a diagnostic mission.

WCO experts have carried out the Organization’s first diagnostic mission to Iraq, following recent improvements in the country’s security situation resulting from the defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  Experts conducted field visits to the Safwan border post with Kuwait, as well as to the Umm Qasr seaport.

Dr. Mikuriya brought the diagnostic mission to a close by holding a series of meetings with various government authorities ahead of submission of the WCO’s final report.  Among those he spoke to were heads of licensing, standardization and international Police and Customs/Police authorities, in addition to the Customs management team.

Secretary General Mikuriya met with the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister’s Office), Dr. Mahdi Al Alek, to discuss pressing issues of concern such as the lack of information technology (IT) infrastructure in Customs as well as interference by many agencies at the country’s borders.  Dr. Mahdi gave assurances that the upcoming WCO report on Customs reform would be submitted to Iraq’s highest authorities for decision. 

Several options for Customs automation were also explored with the Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr. Maher Hammad Johan.  The need for Customs officers to develop data analysis knowledge using the current basic IT system and to take an ownership approach to managing the future IT system was highlighted.  Dr. Mikuriya also had a separate meeting with the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Abdullah Laibi, to talk about improvements to port operations; among other things, he asked Minister Laibi to allocate the space required for Customs to carry out inspections.

When visiting the Iraq Museum, the WCO Secretary General met with Iraq’s Deputy Minister of Culture, Dr. Quais Hussein Rashid, and told him about the WCO’s efforts to protect cultural heritage through the Prevention of Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Heritage (PITCH) training programme specifically developed for Customs officers, and through sharing information via the ARCHEO Customs Enforcement Network.  They also discussed recent trends in the trafficking of cultural heritage and possible ways to enhance cooperation.