As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Saudi Arabia applies the GCC common external tariff of 5% for most products, with a limited number of GCC-approved country-specific exceptions. Saudi Arabia’s exceptions include 666 products that may be imported duty-free, including aircraft and most livestock. The Saudi government also applies a 12% tariff on 294 products, in some cases to protect local industries. Certain textile imports are among the products on which the 12% rate applies.
Being a WTO member, Saudi Arabia is expected to bind its tariffs on over three-fourths of U.S. exports of industrial goods at an average rate of 3.2%, while tariffs on over 90% of agricultural products will be set at 15% or lower.
- Import Tariffs on Food/Agricultural Products
The vast majority of food products are subject to a 5% import duty. Selected processed food products, however, are assessed higher import duties. In order to protect local food processors and production from competitively priced imports, Saudi Arabia ties import duties to the level of local production of similar products. As a general rule, a maximum import tariff rate of 40% is applied when local production of a food or agricultural product exceeds a self-sufficiency level.
Currently, a 40% import duty rate applies to fresh, dried and processed dates. Imports of rice, baby milk and animal feed (soybean meal, feed corn, barley, rice, sorghum, palm kernel meal, wheat bran, alfalfa hay, sugarcane molasses, rice bran, and sunflower meal, oats, canola meal, fish meal, alfalfa pellets, soy bean hulls, sunflower hulls, and rice bran) are subsidized while coffee, tea and fresh red meat enter the country duty free. Saudi Arabia has no tariff rate quota (TRQ) requirement.
On March 31, 2008, the Saudi government exempted wheat, wheat flour and other grains from import duties and reduced duties levied on 75 other foodstuffs to 5%. The decree aims at alleviating the impact of the rising cost of living in Saudi Arabia. Major foodstuffs that benefited from the reduced 5% import tariff included chilled and frozen poultry and their products, eggs (fresh, dried and powdered), cheese, cheese cream, vegetable oils, pasta, canned meat, fruit and vegetable juices, mineral and ordinary water, long life milk, corn flakes, peas, beans, peanut butter, yeast, and baking powder. The government will review the list in April 2011.
Confectionary products with cocoa and other bulk cocoa products are subject to a 15% tariff. Nine types of fresh\chilled vegetables (tomatoes, onions, carrots, cucumbers, marrow, okra, watermelons, melons and potatoes) are subject to a 25% tariff on a seasonal basis. Saudi Arabia also imposes a 100% tariff on cigarette and other tobacco imports.