Customs Reform in Developing Countries – Time for a Rethink?

Customs have been at the core of development concerns, especially in developing countries. In this context, customs are developmentally important to the extent that they sit at the intersection between fiscal imperatives—due to their revenue collection potential and trade-related prerogatives—and security implications. Security imperatives usually trump other considerations in conflict-affected countries and introduce an additional layer of complexity to the reforms supported by the World Bank. This note proposes some possible approaches to customs reforms in developing countries, low-income countries (LICs) in particular. It is intended to help practitioners within the World Bank and other development partners to better understand the key aspects and peculiarities of customs reforms, with the ultimate goal of supporting them in framing their design. However, it is not intended to be comprehensive. Rather, it serves as a “how-to” guide for those not particularly familiar with the topic. It also complements a growing stock of academic pieces linked to customs, as well as findings from other operational evaluations. It also brings together practical experiences and feedback from practitioner.

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