Bahrain jewellers seek customs tariff exemption
Manama, January 23, 2014
Bahrain's jewellery sector has called for exempting kingdom-made jewellery from regional customs tariffs and for a unified gold stamp in the GCC.
According to key industry representatives, the move will support the domestic economy and give a strong push to trade, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
In the kingdom, the campaign is being spearheaded by manufacturers, traders, retailers and designers, coming together under the umbrella of the Bahrain Chapter of the GCC-Gold and Jewellery Association.
"We feel that the five per cent customs duty imposed by the government on raw stock like loose gemstones makes Bahrain-made jewellery uncompetitive as compared to regional counterparts," said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry gold and jewellery committee chairman Mohammed Sajid, who is also the president of the newly-formed association.
"While Bahrain-made jewellery is exempt from import duty payment when entering UAE, Oman and Kuwait, unfortunately that is not the case in Saudi Arabia and Qatar," Sajid told the GDN yesterday.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a Press conference at the Ramada Palace in Gudaibiya, called to announce the formation of the chapter.
"We have been calling for a waiver for a while now and hope that the new association can give impetus to it," he said.
Under the GCC Customs union, member states impose a five per cent tariff on foreign gold imports but exempt home-made jewellery from duties.
He said GCC gold traders have recommended a common Gulf stamp for their products to avoid losses and delays by payment for various stamps in member states.
Bahrain has submitted many proposals in this regard at the GCC gold and jewellery consultative meetings.
"A fundamental aim of the association is to restore Bahrain to its leading position as a regional gold and pearl jewellery hub," Sajid added.
Bahrain needed to step up and offer homegrown gold manufacturers and retailers the same facilities that other GCC countries offer their industry, he said.
"The UAE's prominence in gold trade was a result of support and encouragement offered by the government in terms of work system and facilities. This can help the local gold investors to adopt new designs and styles and compete in the market," he added.
There have been some positive developments in the form of foreign trainers being flown in from Thailand last year and talks of a dedicated training institute for gems and jewellery in the country as well as a natural pearl trading bourse.
The association's assistant general secretary, Deema Al Haddad, said the 19 students from the Bahrain Training Institute have been chosen for apprenticeship with various jewellery firms and some of them might even start their own business.
"We will work with Tamkeen and the Bahrain Development Bank for some programmes and projects for the jewellery industry," she said.
The industry recorded double digit growth last year buoyed by lower prices and better than expected sales performance, traders said.
According to Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry pearl and gold committee member and Al Sarraj Jewellers managing director and the association's treasurer Mohamad Hussain Malim, the market for Bahraini gold and jewellery grew 35 per cent from 2011 to last year.
"This is because of the opening up of new markets like Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan as well as a revival of interest in high-quality Bahrain gold, especially jewellery embedded with Bahraini pearls," he said. – TradeArabia News Service