1998 News Story

Finance Minister explains new duty-free zone

Minister of Finance and National Economy Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf has explained that the Arab duty-free zone for which the Kingdom has approved the executive procedures, will lead to a reduction in custom tariffs on all commodities being traded among Arab countries which are members of the agreement, thus facilitating the development of commercial exchange.  The executive procedures stipulate that Arab commodities be treated in the same manner as domestic commodities in regard to specifications, standards, and health regulations as well as fees and taxes. Minister Al-Assaf noted that the Saudi government, under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, has been giving utmost attention to Arab economic cooperation, adding that removal of all customs barriers that are preventing smooth movement of Arab commodities will be completed within a maximum period of ten years.  He went on to say that the Kingdom has approved implementation of a protocol for protection of local agricultural production, adding that this does not necessarily mean a ban on the import of crops, that it will not apply to those countries with which Saudi Arabia has agreements stipulating exemption for such items, and that no embargo would be imposed on any Arab commodity with the exception of materials and products prohibited on religious, health, security or environmental grounds, or in line with the regulations of agricultural and veterinary quarantine.

Dr. Al-Assaf urged the Saudi private sector, whether individuals or companies, exporters or importers, to take advantage of the Arab duty-free zone, noting that the experience of the GCC member states has proved that such a zone serves the interests of all.