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Import tariffs

On April 1, 2003, the National Assembly approved adoption of the GCC Unified Customs Law (UCL). The UCL imposes a five percent ad valorem duty on all food products imported from non-GCC countries. Tobacco products are assessed a 100 percent customs duty.

All other imports are subject to a five percent general tariff. This flat rate is applied to the cost, insurance, and freight (c.i.f.) value of imported goods. In cases where imports compete with goods that are locally manufactured by "infant industries," the Ministry of Commerce and Industry may impose protective tariffs of up to 15 percent. In such cases, tariff reviews and determinations are conducted on a case-by-case basis. Effective July 1, 1997, the Council of Ministers increased the customs duty on cigarettes and tobacco from 70 percent to 100. An Amiri Decree (2/2002) was issued recently to set taxes on all imported cigarettes and tobacco products by 100 percent, or to impose US $26 customs on every 1000 cigarettes. A Ministerial order was issued on June 11, 2002 and directed to the Director General of customs to implement this law. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are pondering another increase of cigarette and tobacco tariff.

For perishable imports arriving via air, land, or sea, customs clearance is prompt, taking about three hours. To complete clearance, the importer presents the import license and quality test certificate. Recurring perishable imports can be cleared and taken to the importer's premises after evidence that a sample has been submitted to the Municipality for quality testing. The testing period may take as long as three weeks. Efforts are underway to authorize private testing facilities at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) to alleviate this problem. The Government is aware of this chronic and irritating problem.

It should also be noted that incoming shipments (sea freight) to Kuwait currently require a long time to unload because of the long waiting period at ports. Priority is given to ships carrying shipments to Iraq and to the Coalition forces. Assessment of duty on imported goods is usually based on the commercial invoice. However, if customs officials believe the declared value is not realistic, they are authorized to make their own assessment.

In 2001 all docking fees were cancelled at Kuwait ports so as to attract foreign investments.


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