Op-Ed: Customary Annoyances Part II

الثلاثاء 18 تشرين الثاني 2008

Written By: Marwan A. Kardoosh, Economist

Read Part I

I thought twice before posting this. One because my deputy at Jordan Business Naseem Tarawnah thinks that a 31-year old economist shouldn’t be playing video games, to say nothing of making this public. Two is because I don’t want to be thought of as simply having a rant at the Jordanian Customs Department. Yet, I am so disappointed I felt I needed to air some of my frustrations, so here goes:

My two packages, comprised of a Playstation 3 basketball game and a Nintendo Wii football games ordered from Amazon.com, have not been cleared by local authorities. Remember, these are two packages that have arrived in Jordan almost two weeks ago! If this is not an outrage, then I don’t know what.

Let’s talk economics. My professional experience over the past 9 years, working in Jordan and the rest of the region, has taught me that in modern customs practices a primary objective of risk management is a concentrated effort to identify and encourage low-risk shipments. This, in turn, should enable Customs departments to direct their resources to find and intercept shipments that do present viable revenue, health, safety and/or security risks. Ironically, Amazon.com shipments are as “low-risk” as it gets. If anything, the Web site only sells original goods, which means that the risk of a pirated CD, game or a DVD is non-existent. Contrast that with the thousands of DVDs entering the country every day, and I really wonder if the relevant authorities really know what they are doing…

If the customs department is genuine about deep reform aimed at distancing itself from any trade-stifling inspections, it must prepare a list of international companies whose shipments are “low-risk” by nature and, therefore, do not need inspection. Whether or not the Customs Department, in its current setup, can aspire to implement such a measure remains to be seen. For now, the situation is diabolical

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