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3. Barriers to trade
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3.1 Tariff and tariff administration measures

Saudi Arabia applies a 12 percent tariff on 492 products, such as carpet, to protect local industries. A number of Saudi infant industries enjoy 20 percent tariff protection, including those producing sesame extract, furniture, cooking salt, edible offal, rabbit meat, mineral water, and plastic pipes. In addition, long- life milk and nine other agricultural products are subject to a 25 percent tariff. Saudi Arabia imposes a 40 percent tariff on dates. Saudi Arabia also imposes a 100 percent tariff on cigarette and other tobacco imports.

3.2 Import restrictions

The importation of certain articles requires special approval from competent Saudi authorities, including agricultural seeds; live animals and fresh and frozen meat; books, periodicals, movies and tapes; religious books and tapes; chemicals and harmful materials; pharmaceutical products; wireless equipment; horses; products containing alcohol (e.g., perfume); and natural asphalt.

3.3 Technical barriers to trade

According to the Saudi Arabian Standards Organization (SASO), certain imported products must get certificate of the International Conformity Certification Program (ICCP) before entering the Saudi market. The ICCP accords favorable treatment to products manufactured in the Gulf Region, is more trade-restrictive than necessary, charges ad valorem fees unrelated to cost, and lacks transparency. China has raised concerns about the ICCP in the context of its consistency with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.

3.4 Sanitary and phytosanitary measures

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Commerce & Industry announced in September 2005 that it has launched an investigation into the issue of cancer-causing chemicals found in certain food imported from China, and would conduct a comprehensive inspection into similar products imported from China in order to prevent them enter the Kingdom through different means. This measure was taken because South Korea and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China announced sequentially that caner-causing chemical substance had been found in eel and other freshwater fishes imported from China. China pays close attention to this issue.

As a result of bird flu outbreaks in certain countries and regions, the Saudi government announced in October 2005 that it would work out comprehensive prevention and control measures to prevent an outbreak of bird flu within the Kingdom. As one of the preventive measures, the Saudi government decided to impose a ban on the import of poultry and poultry products from 16 countries, including China. China requests that the Saudi government conduct tests and inspections to reevaluate safety conditions of relevant Chinese exports and remove the ban at an earlier date.

3.5 Barriers to trade in services

Saudi Arabia gives preferences to national shipping carriers for up to 40 percent of government-related cargoes. Under these rules, the Saudi national shipping company and United Arab Shipping Company receive preferences.

3.6 Other barriers

Foreign companies must provide 25 percent of their job openings to Saudi citizens. In some places the rate is deliberately raised to 30 percent or even higher. Otherwise foreign staff in foreign companies will be denied working visas. Certain public affairs offices do not handle requests from non-Saudis. This practice has caused higher costs and lower efficiency for foreign companies.

Female employees face great difficulties in obtaining Saudi visas. Particularly there is little possibility for women to obtain long-term working visas. This has affected the normal business of Chinese companies based in Saudi Arabia. China expresses concerns about the discriminatory treatment to female employees in terms of working visas application.

China hopes that on the issue of working visa, the Saudi government would grant fair treatment to Chinese applicants who are needed by engineering projects and who have completed proper formalities.

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