Exporting into The Middle East

Stephen Hannigan, Corporate Development Manager at Warrant Group has lived and worked in the Middle East. Here he gives some insight and advice into exporting to the region.

Posted by Stephen Hannigan

Corporate Development Manager, Warrant Group

  • T: 0151 955 0600
  • E: enquiries@warrant-group.com
Mon 14th, Mar

The Middle East is a culturally and socially diverse region with a lot to offer UK exporters. Its customs processes are fairly complex compared with other parts of the world but with effective supply chain expertise and local knowledge, exciting opportunities are there for the taking.

Has the importer got the necessary authority to import?  Don't fall at the first hurdle, make sure that your importer is registered!

You'd be surprised how often this is not the case, especially among new-to-the-market importers offering great deals!

Do the imported goods need to be registered with a ministry, health department/municipality before release?

Different countries and regions have many local requirements and without the necessary approvals, imported goods will not be released from customs. Be aware that the documentation process in the Middle East is still largely paper based; documents are inspected and rubber-stamped manually rather than being processed electronically.

Best time to export?

The Middle East weekend is a Friday/Saturday so ensure freight arrives on a Saturday evening or Sunday morning to prevent excessive dwell time at customs. And, just like Chinese New Year where productivity in the world's factory slows, be aware of national celebrations including Ramadam, Eid and the Arabic New Year.

Are there any cross selling or brand limitations?  In some territories there will be an authorised importer for a brand, if you wish to import products for general sale or use in a project you may need to get a Non Objection Certificate (NOC) from the licence holder.

Is it necessary to label the goods in Arabic? This is especially relevant for goods such as foodstuffs and cosmetics etc.

Where should I ship to? Ideally export to the nearest port of arrival and let the importer handled the onward journey to limit your liabilities. Weigh up the pros and cons of exporting to a hub region, bearing in mind onward transportation costs and delays through multiple customs clearances.

Are there any rules saying it is necessary to use specific ports, airport or carriers?

Importers often have specific requirements for duty exemption in certain industries. For example importation of duty exempt goods for Abu Dhabi must only be done at Abu Dhabi International Airport or seaport - if you try and import at Dubai World Central Airports, you'll be liable for five per cent duty.

Are there any new or forthcoming legislation/regulatory changes to be aware of?

At the moment, there is no VAT in the Middle East but this could change with talk about a proposed VAT levy in the United Arab Emirates of anywhere between 3% and 5% but this still to be confirmed.

Additionally, extra duty levies are often imposed if the product being imported could be sourced locally - there is a lot of industry in the Middle East, from textiles to engineering.

And finally, what about the weather? Never underestimate the obvious! I can clearly remember a container full of foodstuffs left on the quay during the summer; the smell was horrendous. It all depends on the product but with temperatures soaring to 45 degrees Celsius and above, goods left in a metal container can quickly deteriorate. Consider the need for a refrigerated container, known as a reefer.

Leave a comment

Give Your Business Utilities a Refresh for 2020

Mon 20th, Jan

January is a time for reflection for most people and this includes business owners, with the new year bringing with it an opportunity to take stock of performance during the past 12 months, create goals for the year ahead, and ensure...

The Inspired Energy Journey: Building a Business to Meet Diverse Needs

Mon 20th, Jan

Since its inception back in 2000, Inspired Energy has been working tirelessly to build the most complete utilities management solution available – a solution that can meet the diverse needs of businesses of all sizes and across all sectors.

What did the Millennium Bug teach us about cybersecurity?

Thu 09th, Jan

It’s hard to believe that two decades have passed - but 20 years ago the world was celebrating a momentous non-event. We remember it well!

Why Should You Check Your Business Energy Bills?

Wed 18th, Dec

Business energy bills are complex, there’s no doubt about that. With a widening range of non-commodity costs now taking up a majority share of the invoice, it can be be both confusing and time consuming to effectively recognise whether your...

Green Energy – Going Green Doesn’t Have to Cost the Earth

Wed 18th, Dec

In the third quarter of 2019, electricity generated in the UK via renewable energy sources surpassed electricity derived from fossil fuels for the first time.