Export to Saudi Arabia: what are the main imports?

Saudi Arabia mainly has oil as its own resource. This means that many other goods have to be imported in the affluent country.

What does Saudi Arabia import?

  • Machinery & Equipment
  • Foodstuffs
  • Chemicals
  • Automobiles
  • Textiles

Which are Saudi Arabia’s favorite import partners? (percentage of total imports)

  • China (16.4%)
  • US (13.3%)
  • India (4.2%)
  • Germany (5.3%)
  • South Korea (3.1%)
  • Japan (4.0%)

What do we know about Saudi Arabian customers?

With a total population of 31 million, Saudi Arabia consists of Arabs, Afro-Asian and some immigrant communities. In fact, 30% of the total population of the country are immigrants. Saudi Arabia is a highly urbanised society with 83% of its people living in modern, developed areas. The latest recorded Gini Index for the nation in 2013 was 45.9 percent.

Which are Saudi Arabia’s major container ports?

There are two main container ports that handle trade in Saudi Arabia:

  • Jeddah
  • Dammam

Which are Saudi Arabia’s top cargo airports?

The following are Saudi Arabia’s top airports with cargo handling terminals and facilities:

  • King Fahd International Airport
  • King Khalid International Airport
  • King Abdulaziz International Airport

Saudi Arabia’s custom regulations

Saudi Arabia is one of the strictest countries in the world regarding import regulations. To import into the nation one requires:

  • A proof of origin of the product that is to be translated into Arabic and authenticated at the Saudi Arabian Chamber of Commerce
  • 3 copies of a Customs Invoice (Saudi Arabian)
  • Another invoice that mentions the country of origin, name of the one carrying the goods, description of goods or products, brand and number of items, total weight and value of the consignment
  • A bill of lading
  • For shipments, original insurance documents are required. These are to be translated into Arabic
  • Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation Certificate of Conformity
  • Some rules may vary depending on your country of origin. Refer to professional guidance from export specialists for your particular needs

Tariffs and taxes

The standard tariff for goods entering Saudi Arabia is 5%. Certain protected industries which the Saudi Arabian government wishes to support levy 12% to 20% on related products. Apart from which, Saudi Arabia utilises the HS Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System on all imported items.

Certain items are either strictly restricted or then require special permission to bring into the country. Pork, weapons, alcohol and the like are banned while medicines, pesticides, military uniforms, and wireless technology requires special approval.

The distribution structure in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian government has provided a sound infrastructural set up with modernised roads, maritime and air freight systems, that ensure transportation within the nation is smooth and efficient. Distribution and sales of products are mainly focused in the West with Jeddah as its commercial centre, in the Central region where the capital Riyadh is located and then in the East, which is the oil and gas hub. To effectively tap these high potential areas, foreign players will benefit from appointing local distributors who either specialise in a particular line, industry or then are experts related to a targeted region.

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