RIYADH, 4 January 2007 — Director General of Saudi Customs Saleh Al-Barak reiterated that the Saudi regulations do not permit the import of goods manufactured in Israel.
“The official regulation followed by every customs house at the Kingdom’s border crosspoints is a total ban on any goods of Israeli origin,” Al-Watan Arabic newspaper quoted Saleh Al-Barak as saying yesterday.
Anyone found breaking the regulation would be treated as a smuggler of contraband goods to the Kingdom and fined accordingly and the seized goods destroyed, the director general said.
“The violations of this kind have, however, been limited in number, committed only by individuals and not by any importing establishment,” Barak said.
He said some people bring Israeli products to the Kingdom due to ignorance about the source of the goods. On the other hand, Barak said all products of Palestine are exempted from customs duty.
Barak said the customs revenues were estimated at SR11.5 billion out of the SR270 billion imports in 2006. The revenue did not drop despite new customs regulations implemented following the Kingdom’s accession to the World Trade Organization, he said.
The Kingdom has 33 customs checkpoints including airports and seaports and Barak hoped that they would be sufficient to cater for the needs of the next 10 years.
He added that the department has plans to expedite customs inspections with the help of the state-of-the-art devices at the checkpoints. The facility will be installed at first at the checkpoints experiencing heavy traffic and extended gradually to other checkpoints as well.
Barak said presently there is no difficulty for the Kingdom’s commodities to enter the neighboring counties of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The obstacles found with the export of Saudi dates to the UAE have also been removed.
In September last year, Saudi date sellers expressed their frustration over new customs measures adopted by the Emirati Ministry of Agriculture, which curtailed the export of raw dates from the Kingdom to the UAE.
According to Abdulrahman Al-Zamil, head of the Saudi Export Development Center, the UAE Cabinet had given orders to the Ministry of Agriculture to impose certain conditions on Saudi date exporters “in violation of the United Gulf Customs regulations, the Arab Customs Union, and the World Trade Organization agreements.”
The director general said the current tendency in the Arab countries, like elsewhere in the world, is to simplify the customs formalities in order to have a gainful trade balance with other countries.
Barak said any difficulty felt in the export of Saudi products to countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Sudan, which clamped restrictions on Saudi products against the spirit of the general agreements of the Arab free trade zone will be dealt with by the Arab League. He also attributed such difficulties partly to the bureaucratic delay in some countries.