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No obstacles to customs union: GCC

posted on 13/01/2003: 723 views

The GCC denied yesterday Western press reports that its historic customs union was facing obstacles just a few days after its heads of state gave the final go-ahead for the project to turn the six nations into the most powerful oil bloc in history. The Riyadh-based GCC Secretariat dismissed a report this week by a Western news agency that the burgeoning customs union began facing snags because of differences on collection of revenue from tariffs on foreign products entering the region.

"There is a misunderstanding. It is true that we have already launched the customs union but the truth is that we have a three-year transitional period to clear all outstanding issues," said Ibrahim Al Sabti, director of the GCC's Finance and Customs Department.

On January 1, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman set their feet on the path towards a single market where there will be no barriers after approving a common five per cent tariff on foreign imports following more than 15 years of negotiations. "We have an agreement on all issues. Some of them were resolved by January 1 and the others will be tackled during the transitional period," Sabti said.

"Regarding the customs revenues, the agreement now is that any product entering the GCC will be taxed at the first entry point. At the end of the year, the six members will share those revenues according to a defined settlement...concerning foreign pro-ducts which do not produce any proof they have been taxed, they will be taxed at any entry point."

Sabti said the more than 1,000 foreign items included in the tariff list would be taxed at their final destination at a later stage. "For example, if a car was imported at Port Rashid in Dubai and was re-exported to Saudi Arabia, where it was then sent to Bahrain, it will be taxed in Bahrain," he said. (The Gulf News)


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