Foreign trade doubled in three years



Foreign trade almost doubled between 2003 and 2006, rising to Dh415.9 billion, said the deputy director general of the Federal Customs Authority (FCA) Saeed bin Khalifa Al Marri.

The is FCA currently working on a strategic plan to unify customs procedures at all entry and exit points in the country.

Al Marri said the customs authority would conduct a detailed study of local departments to assist in the standardisation of all procedures. However, he added, the rate of discrepancy in customs procedures does not exceed 15 per cent and it will be a simple task to unify the procedures.

The customs authority oversees the massive amount of goods moving in and out of the country and the task is growing in size. In 2003, foreign trade stood at Dh209.3 billion, however, by 2006 it has grown 98.7 per cent, according to the deputy director general.

“Weight wise, the volume of foreign trade amounted to 126 billion tonnes in 2006, up from 113.8 billion in 2003, a growth rate of 10.7 per cent,” he said.

The average daily weight handled by customs – including import, export and re-export – amounted to 345 million tonnes in 2006, or 43 million tonnes per working hour, 719,000 tonnes a minute or the equivalent of  12 tonnes a second, explained Al Marri.

Meanwhile, the value of exports rose by 262.5 per cent to Dh28.1bn in 2006 from Dh10.3bn. Re-exports grew by 89.6 per cent to Dh96.7bn in 2006 from Dh51bn in 2003. Al Marri said the UAE had traded with 198 countries over the same period.

Speaking at a press conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday, Al Marri also addressed questions from reporters about customs procedures related to fireworks, which recently caused a massive explosion and fire in Dubai’s Al Quoz industrial area.

“As a supervisory body, the FCA is responsible for policy, but it is up to local departments to implement decisions related to prohibited materials,” he said.

The FCA’s database shows the value of imports of fireworks totalled Dh9.4 million in 2006.

“Customs duties of five per cent are imposed on such commodities,” added Al Marri. In recent years, he said authorities have caught tens of tons of illegal fireworks.

“It is too early in the investigation of the fire to assign blame,” he continued.

“There might be a problem in the entry measures. The entry, also, might have been done in a correct way, or the problem could have been with storage.

“Besides, the fire might be a result of short circuit. We are waiting for the results of an investigation and we are ready at the same time to co-operate with any body in the country to reveal the truth.

“The customs’ responsibility is restricted to the application of customs measures only. If the customs shipment met required measures, the customs’ responsibility, then, would end.”