Saudi Arabia's economy is petroleum-based; roughly 75% of budget revenues and 90% of export earnings come from the oil industry. It is strongly dependent on foreign workers with about 80% of those employed in the private sector being non-Saudi. Among the challenges to Saudi economy include halting or reversing the decline in per capita income, improving education to prepare youth for the workforce and providing them with employment, diversifying the economy, stimulating the private sector and housing construction, diminishing corruption and inequality.
The oil industry comprises about 45% of Saudi Arabia's nominal gross domestic product, compared with 40% from the private sector. Saudi Arabia officially has about 260 billion barrels of oil reserves, comprising about one-fifth of the world's proven total petroleum reserves.
Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government control over major economic activities. Saudi Arabia possesses 18% of the world's proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and played a leading role in OPEC for many years. The petroleum sector accounts for almost all of Saudi government revenues, and export earnings. Most workers, particularly in the private sector, are foreigners.
Saudi oil reserves are the second largest in the world, and Saudi Arabia is the world's leading oil exporter and second largest producer. Proven reserves, according to figures provided by the Saudi government, are estimated to be 260 billion barrels (41 km3), about one-quarter of world oil reserves. Petroleum in Saudi Arabia is not only plentiful but under pressure and close to the earth's surface. This makes it far cheaper and thus far more profitable to extract than oil at many other fields. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 92.5% of Saudi budget revenues, 90% of export earnings, and 55% of GDP.
Saudi Arabia's economy is highly dependent on oil exports and the state-owned firm Aramco is the world's largest oil producing and exporting company. Saudi Arabia's other exports include plastics, organic chemicals, fertilizers, aluminum, inorganic chemicals, gems, precious metals, copper, dairy, eggs, honey, iron or steel products.
Main export partners of Saudi Arabia are United States, Japan, China, South Korea and India.
Saudi Arabia has natural resources other than oil, including small mineral deposits of gold, silver, iron copper, zinc, manganese, tungsten, lead, sulphur, phosphate, soapstone and feldspar. The country has a small agricultural sector, primarily in the southwest where annual rainfall averages 400 mm. The country is one of the world's largest producers of dates. For some years it grew very expensive wheat using desalinated water for irrigation, but plans to stop by 2016. As of 2009, livestock population amounted to 7.4 million sheep, 4.2 million goats, half a million camels and a quarter of a million cattle.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia sought to join the World Trade Organization. Negotiations have focused on the degree to which Saudi Arabia is willing to increase market access to foreign goods and services and the timeframe for becoming fully compliant with World Trade Organization obligations. As of November 2005, Saudi Arabia was officially approved to enter World Trade Organization.
Saudi Arabia main imports are machinery, mechanical appliances and electrical equipment, transport equipment and parts, base metals, chemicals, vegetables, cereals, pharmaceuticals, medical and technical equipment.
Main import partners of Saudi Arabia are China, United States, Germany and Japan.
Saudi Arabia Customs Contacts
Address: Riyadh ZipCode: 11197, P.O Box: 3483
Tel: +966 11 4013334
Saudi Arabia is an Arab country situated in Western Asia, on the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Jordan, Iraq, Kuwai, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen. Saudi Arabia is a member of the Food and Agriculture Organization, International Chamber of Commerce, Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other international organizations.
Customs tariffs are based on the Harmonised System, caculated ad valorem on the cost and freight (C&F) value of goods.
Basic consumer products such as rice, tea, unroasted coffee, barley corn, etc. are exempt of duty. No tariffs on equipment, ordnance, arms and munitions for military purposes, an export letter is required.
Import surcharges and port fees may be levied on some products.
The average customs duty rate is 5%, with a 20% rate being levied on commodities for which there are domestic substitutes.
Tobacco is subject to a 100 per cent import duty.
Shipments in transit are not subject to duty.
All food products are eliminated from the pre-shipment inspection, although exporters are still subject to Saudi quality controls and testing.
The import of alcoholic beverages, flour, nutmeg, pork, 14-carat gold and a range of prefabricated buildings is prohibited.
Chemical/hazardous shipments require prior approval before being moved from the port of origin and are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
A ban exists on EU imports of meat.
Import licences are required for flour, rice and sugar.
The import of arms and ammunition is strictly controlled.
Import permits issued by the appropriate Saudi ministry are required for plants, seeds and agricultural machinery.
Product certification, labelling and packaging
All products, materials and goods must contain the name of the country of manufacture.
The label should indicate the following:
Labelling on foods must indicate, in both English and Arabic:
name of product
Packing should be strong and should guard against extreme heat in summer, humidity in winter and possible storage in the open.
Plants and plant products are prohibited as packing materials.
Dry bulk material should be packed in bags or bales and palletised or could be shipped in jumbo bags fitted with lifting points. The shipment of dry bulk cargo by container is prohibited.
The regulations governing the marking of packages are quite specific. Depicting human or animal forms and reproducing the government mark are prohibited.
Other general information:
Adhesive labels on foodstuffs are not permitted.
Sweets, sugars and tahini sweets are prohibited unless net weight in English and Arabic is clearly marked in outer cover of packet.
Product literature for pharmaceuticals must be printed in both English and Arabic. Literature for products used in the treatment of neurotic and terminal diseases is exempt.
Insecticides must include detailed information of contents and use on all cans and packages.
Operating manuals must accompany every piece of equipment, machinery, device, tool or instrument imported and must be printed in Arabic.
All cigarette packets must carry a legible indelible health warning in Arabic.
Special labelling for genetically modified food and non-genetically modified food products is required.
The following certification from the appropriate authorities is required:
Used clothing – clothes have been satisfactorily disinfected.
Consignments of meat and meat products for human consumption must be accompanied by a halal certificate.
All animals, animal products, plants and plant products (including seeds and grains) require health certification issued by the approved authority in the country of origin.
Pharmaceuticals must be accompanied by a certificate of price issued by the approved authority and legalised by the Saudi Arabian Embassy.
Methods of quoting and payment
Quotations should be in US dollars or Pound Sterling, CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight) (Incoterms 2000). Goods for Riyadh are usually shipped via Dammam.
- Commercial invoice, indicating:
- Bill of lading/airway bill
- Original ocean bill of lading or master airway bill (forwarder's bill of lading or airway bill not acceptable)
- Packing list
Must be provided and must describe accurately and in detail the contents of each outer container and show the net weight, gross weight and CIF value.
- Certificate of origin
Five copies are required and must be certified by an approved authority and legalised by the Saudi Arabian Embassy.
Public health requirements
Imports of animals, animal products, plants and plant products require health certification issued by an approved authority in the country of origin.
Live plants and seeds may also require prior approval from the Plant Protection Branch, Saudi Ministry of Agriculture.
Import permits are issued by agricultural offices licensed by the Ministry of Commerce, provided the prior approval of the Ministry of Agricultural is obtained.
Shipments of meat and meat products for human consumption must be accompanied by a certificate stating that the animals have been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic rites. Frozen meat and food are subject to strict regulations governing their import and storage.
All imported foods must be approved by the Saudi health authorities.
Artificial sweeteners in food and beverages are subject to stringent restrictions. Pharmaceutical products require prior registration with and approval for local sales by, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health.