The WCO supports Palestine in improving its tariff classification work and related infrastructure

27 July 2018

The WCO is assisting the Palestinian Customs Administration in its initiative to strengthen its tariff classification infrastructure in order to better align it with the international standards and guidelines promoted by the WCO, while ensuring that it is adapted to fit the local environment.  The initiative will allow the administration to perform its tasks more efficiently on a long-term basis.

The WCO visited Palestine to carry out a diagnostic assessment of the current Palestinian tariff classification control system.  The visit to Ramallah, from 15 to 19 July 2018, was successfully carried out thanks to funding from the WCO Reserve Fund and support from the General Directorate of Customs, with clear engagement from management.

Over the course of the visit, the WCO expert held a series of work sessions with those responsible for the various departments concerned on a number of subjects related to the clearance procedures involved for goods imported to Palestine as a final destination. A visit to a clearance office was also organized.

Both the work sessions and the on-site visit allowed for a clearer vision of the current control system and related infrastructure as well as of the role that should be played by a proper central office responsible for tariff classification policy. It was also an opportunity to plan the various steps to be taken and set out priorities in line with WCO guidelines on tariff classification.

An interactive session with Customs officials was also organized at the Palestinian Public Finance Institute.  This was an opportunity to discuss both challenges and future prospects for the Palestinian Customs Administration when it came to sustainable capacity building and tariff classification in general and provided the chance to plan the steps to be taken on that basis.

A meeting with private sector representatives was set up by the Palestinian Customs Administration and held at the Federation of Palestinian Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.  The open atmosphere in which the dialogue took place allowed representatives from both the private sector and Customs to exchange views and discuss various obstacles encountered and the main challenges faced when it came to improving Customs clearance procedures.  This meeting served as a reminder of the role played by the WCO in bringing together all stakeholders in commercial transactions and clearance operations as well as to highlight the importance of identifying and classifying goods in facilitating and accelerating the clearance process.

During the closing ceremony, the Director General for VAT and Excise, Mr. Louay Hanash stressed the importance of tariff classification and the implementation of an efficient and sustainable tariff classification control system that would run parallel to control systems for other taxation types. He also recognized the importance of sharing knowledge with those working in the field.   He thanked the WCO for its continued support and reaffirmed his commitment to following WCO recommendations and utilizing WCO support to improve, develop and increase the standing of the Palestinian Customs Administration, on a level with other administrations.