Trade Policy

Trade Barriers
Standards. Bahrain enforces shelf-life standards for a variety of food products. The manufacturer must print production and expiration dates on the label or container. Suppliers should work closely with their local importers to ensure compliance with local shelf-life requirements. Pharmaceutical products must be imported directly from a manufacturer that has a research department and must be licensed in at least two other GCC countries, one of which must be Saudi Arabia.

Investment. The government actively promotes foreign investment and has in recent years promulgated regulations permitting 100-percent foreign ownership of new industrial establishments and the establishment of representative offices or branches of foreign companies without local sponsors. However, all commercial investments are subject to government approval and most must be made in partnership with a Bahraini national controlling at least 51 percent of the equity.

In early 2001 the government of Bahrain allowed non-GCC nationals to own high-rise commercial and residential properties, as well as property in tourism, banking, financial and health projects and training centers, in specific geographic areas. But the land and property which foreign investors buy must be used for its designated purpose.

The government announced in July 1999 that importers can now clear goods as soon as they arrive at Bahrain's ports rather than wait one or two days for customs clearance. Under the new procedures, traders can pay a deposit for insurance purposes and then return to the port later to settle customs duties.

Customs Valuation
Bahrain implemented in January 2003 both the WTO Agreement on Customs Valuation and the terms of the GCC Customs Union. Bahrain is committed to keep its tariffs in line with the unified GCC customs union,  the tariff range for the customs union calls for tax-free foodstuffs, 5.5 percent duty on consumer goods, and 7.5 percent tariff on luxury items.

Import Licenses
Import licenses for items to be sold in Bahrain are issued only to locally established companies that are at least 51 percent Bahraini-owned. Foreign companies established prior to 1975 may be exempt from this rule under special circumstances. Bahrain requires that pharmaceutical products be imported directly from a manufacturer with a research department and that the products be licensed in at least two other GCC countries, one of which must be Saudi Arabia. Drugs and medicines may be imported only by a drug store or pharmacy licensed by the Ministry of Health. All imported beef and poultry products require a health certificate from the country of origin and a halal slaughter certificate issued by an approved Islamic center in the country of origin.

Export Controls

Bahrain imposes standard international export controls.

Import / Export Documentation
For imports, Bahraini Customs requires commercial invoices in duplicate in Arabic or English; a certificate of origin in Arabic or English (produced by a Chamber of Commerce and endorsed by an Arab Embassy); a copy of the insurance policy, if applicable; and bills of lading (four copies), including gross weight and dimensions. For food items, the Bahraini Customs Directorate Handbook declares that presentation of a certificate from manufacturers certifying that goods do not contain cyclamates is an important requisite.

Imported and exported goods are classified according to the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC), Revision 3.

Temporary Entry
Facilities in the two free zones, Mina Salman and the North Sitra Industrial Estate, may be used for the temporary import of goods for re-export