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Saudi Arabia said its tariff agreement on imports from neighboring Gulf countries will exclude goods made in free zones or from Israel.
According to a ministerial decree published Saturday in the Saudi official gazette Umm al-Qura, products coming out of free zones across the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council will be handled as if they were foreign imports. The decree also excludes goods using input from Israel, or from firms partially or fully owned by Israeli companies, from preferential tariffs.
In the neighboring United Arab Emirates, free zones — where firms operate under a different set of regulations than the rest of the country — are a key pillar of the economy. Saudi Arabia has been increasing pressure on international firms to shift their Middle East hubs to the kingdom, posing a direct challenge to Dubai as a regional rivalry heats up.
“Saudi Arabia will exclude from the GCC tariff agreement goods made by companies with a workforce made up of less than 25% of local people and industrial products with less than 40% of added value after their transformation process,” the decree said.