YEREVAN (Public Radio of Armenia) — On February 26, Armenia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations and the United Nation in Armenia signed the Customs Facilitation Agreement. The Customs Facilitation Agreement is a bilateral agreement allowing the expedition of the import, export and transit of shipments and possessions of relief personnel in the event of disasters and emergencies.
This marked a major step forward in strengthening preparedness and a pioneering initiative for others in the region.
The agreement was signed by the Minister of Emergency Situations, Armen Yeritsyan and the Head of the UN Yerevan Office, Bradley Buzetto.
After the signing ceremony, Buzetto said the agreement will contribute to the simplification of the process of import of humanitarian aid and equipment of rescuers for assisting during disasters and emergencies.
He said to date similar agreements have been signed with the governments of Belarus, Bhutan, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Liberia, Mali, Moldova, Nepal and Uzbekistan.
Armenia’s vulnerability to natural disasters led the government to prioritize a rapid deployment of international aid in emergency situations by lowering customs barriers. The negotiations between the UN and the Government of Armenia began in 2013.
Developed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 1994 and approved by the World Customs Organization in 1996, the Model Customs Agreement between the UN and member states includes recommended measures to expedite customs clearance procedures, including simplified documentation and inspection procedures, the temporary or permanent waiving of duties and taxes on imports, as well as clearance arrangements outside official working hours and locations.