TradeArabia News Service | 21.04.2013
Importers ‘misusing Bahrain’s FTA with US’
Manama — Importers in Bahrain have been accused of trying to misuse the kingdom’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US to avoid paying taxes, a report said.
Bahrain’s Sea Ports Customs Affairs directorate recorded 100 trade violations last year, which could have cost the economy BD108.7 million ($285.1 million) had they not been detected, according to the report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Of those, 33 involved false declarations that sought to wrongly take advantage of the FTA, said Customs Affairs director of Sea Ports Customs Khalifa Al Shomeli.
"Some importers ship goods from China, which passes through the US," he told the GDN.
"Instead of stating the country of origin they state it as US in customs clearance documents to benefit from the FTA agreement and not pay tax. Whether some of the goods are unloaded at a US port or not their final destination is Bahrain and the country of origin should be stated."
Al Shomeli said another key issue facing customs directorate officers was importers failing to declare goods, with 547 violations reported last year.
"Instructions on declaring goods and what is allowed and banned in Bahrain are present at every customs entry point for agents and importers," he said.
"This includes fake and counterfeit goods such as accessories and bags and we recorded 59 cases of copyright violations last year. When an importer does not declare goods, it is treated as smuggling and legal procedures are taken against the person."
In the case of counterfeit goods, the trademark agent can file a case against the importer.
"If the goods are found to be a hazard to health, the Health Ministry is alerted to inspect the shipment on the ground before it is allowed clearance," said Al Shomeli.
He urged people to declare goods and give the correct information to ease clearance procedures.
Banned items include drugs and guns, while the import of knives and swords are restricted.