The UAE and Saudi customs have discussed latest updates about customs issues of mutual interest between the two countries, the aspects of cooperation to facilitate customs activities in border outlets, mechanisms for facing challenges to intra-trade and electronic connection between the Ghuwaifat and Al-Batha Customs authorities during their two day meetings hosted by the Federal Customs Authority (FCA).
In the fourth meeting of the General Directors of the UAE and Saudi Customs Authorities, the UAE team was led by Khalid Ali Al Bustani, Acting Director-General of the FCA and the Saudi delegation was headed by Saleh bin M. Al-Khaliwi, Director General of Saudi Customs.
Al Bustani said that the meeting comes in line with the directions of the sound leadership in the two countries on coordinating to fulfill the obligations of the GCC Customs Union and taking the procedures necessary for increasing intra-trade volumes in outlets.
He added: "The meeting was aimed at enhancing customs cooperation between both countries, exchanging opinions and information about common trade issues and developing the mechanisms required for overcoming possible hurdles to the transfer of goods through the agreed-upon communication channels to meet citizen ambitions in the UAE and Saudi Arabia." The meeting was a good opportunity to promote customs cooperation, thanks to customs authorities' strategic role in achieving target economic growth rates in both countries amid a great mutual desire for boosting cooperation in customs issues.
Al Bustani noted that the meeting is the fourth between both countries' officials. During the third meeting which was held in Abu Dhabi, the participants agreed on forming a bilateral customs team to follow up and handle trade issues. The team was agreed to meet on a quarterly basis.
Saudi Arabia is the UAE's first partner in the GCC region. Based on the UAE's non-oil trade statistics, KSA is one of the major trade partners in the Middle East, while the UAE is deemed the Kingdom's main trade gate.
From 1999 to 2011-end, KSA maintained its position on top of trade partners in the GCC region, dominating more than 42 per cent of the UAE's non-oil trade, Al Bustani indicated.
He went on saying: "The FCA's statistics report shows that intra-trade volume between the UAE and KSA stood at approximately Dh178.7 billion from 1999-2011. Saudi imports reached nearly Dh113.8 billion, while the UAE exports and re-exports came at Dh22.1 billion and Dh42.8 billion, respectively." "Coordination with the Saudi Customs Authority springs from FCA's strategic objectives, namely protecting the security of society and to facilitate trade and enhance cooperation with partners worldwide," he added.
Trade acceleration and growth in light of globalization, liberated economic policy and the security challenges related to the increased organized crimes represent the major hindrance to official customs authorities across the world.
"The alertness of customs officials and sound leadership in the GCC region, especially the UAE and KSA, in addition to advanced inspection techniques, official awareness of potential risks all contribute to facing challenges. We have a great confidence in the customs sector to overcome hurdles using a state-of-the-art method that can protect the security of society and facilitate intra-GCC trade," he added.
Cooperation between both countries' customs is at the highest level in all aspects. This cooperation is spurred by mutual understanding and a desire for achieving common goals whether on the level of the Saudi-UAE Joint Customs Committee, liaison groups, and other meetings to address various issues on customs agenda. The committees and liaison teams work on solving any problems promptly.
Al Bustani explained that sharing opinion and advice with the Saudi Customs and other authorities in the GCC region as well as international forums is one of the main pillars of FCA's strategy. He added that coordination with international customs authorities arose from an initiative launched by the UAE out of its conviction that being in talks as one bloc bear fruits in the field of customs.
"To prove the success of such cooperation aimed at maintaining the interest of both countries, GCC coordination meetings are held ahead of the Arab Customs Law Committee, the International Protocol for Tobacco meetings, the Revised Kyoto Convention to simplify customs procedures and Convention on Temporary Admission (Istanbul Convention)," the top official added.
The coordination meetings with KSA and the GCC countries unified and proximate viewpoints of customs authorities region-wide with respect to the issues of the international customs agenda. They also contributed to achieving the common objectives to the interest of GCC nationals, which in turn supports national industries in the region, and enhances competitive ability of these countries.