The Free Trade Agreement aims at achieving extensive liberalization across a wide Spectrum of trade issues, both in terms of goods and services Dr. Yousef Mashal said. 96% of Bahrain industrial and agricultural products will receive immediate duty-free access to the US markets. Tariffs on the remaining products, which are not currently produced in Bahrain will be phased-out within 10 years. The Agreement includes commitments to ensure transparent and efficient customs administration, including the publication of laws and regulations on the Internet and establishing prompt customs clearance procedures. The Agreement lays out specific rules of origin to ensure that only Bahrain and US goods benefit from the preferential duty treatment of the Agreement where two types of goods produced in Bahrain will receive the benefits of the Agreement Dr. Mashal explained That Goods originating in Bahrain which means goods is an originating good where it is imported directly from the territory of one Party into the territory of other Party, and it is a good wholly the growth, product, or manufacture of one or both of the Parties. The second type is goods that underwent a substantial transformation with at least 35% value added will also be custom exempted, which means the direct costs of processing operations performed in the territory of one or both of the Parties is not less than 35 percent of the appraised value of the good at the time it is imported into the territory of a Party; and must be a new or different article of commerce which means a good that has been substantially transformed from a good or material that is not wholly the growth, product, or manufacture of one or both of the Parties and that has a new name, character, or use distinct from the good or material from which it was transformed and no good shall be considered a new or
different article of commerce by virtue of having merely undergone simple combining or packaging operations or a mere dilution with water or with another substance that does not materially alter the characteristics of the good. In the agreement Dr. Mashal said Each Party shall adopt or maintain procedures providing for the release of goods within a period no greater than that required to ensure compliance with its customs laws and, to the extent possible, within 48 hours of arrival, provided that necessary data submission requirements are fulfilled and adopt or maintain procedures allowing, to the extent possible, goods to be released at the point of arrival, without interim transfer to warehouses or other locations; Dr. Mashal Added that both parties should adopt or maintain procedures allowing the release of goods prior to, and without prejudice to, the final determination by its customs authority of the applicable customs duties, taxes, and fees, and as part of such procedures may require an importer to provide sufficient guarantee in the form of a warranty or other appropriate instrument to ensure payment of any customs duties, taxes, and fees that may ultimately be assessed; and shall endeavor to adopt or maintain simplified procedures for the release of goods. In regard to express shipment Dr. Mashal Said each party shall adopt or maintain separate, expedited customs procedures for express shipments, including procedures that, to the extent possible, allow the information necessary for the release of express shipments to be submitted electronically in which the information necessary for the release of an express shipment may be submitted, and processed by the Party’s customs authority, before the shipment arrives and allowing a shipper to submit a single manifest covering all goods contained in an express shipment, to the extent possible, minimize the documentation required for the release of express shipments; and the agreement has stipulated that, under normal circumstances, allowance for an express shipment that has arrived at a point of importation to be released no later than six hours after the submission of the information necessary for release. Further more Dr. Mashal said each Party shall, publish its customs laws, regulations, and administrative procedures on the Internet and to the extent possible, publish in advance any regulations of general application governing customs matters that it proposes to adopt and shall provide interested persons the opportunity to comment on such proposed regulations prior to their adoption where each party shall designate one or more inquiry points to address inquiries from interested persons concerning customs matters and shall make available on the Internet information concerning procedures for making such inquiries.
Dr. Yousef H Mashal