Kuwait - DOC

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Ongoing matters of concern for business include Kuwait tax regulations, less than
transparent regulations pertaining to industrial standards, highly bureaucratic application
procedures, intellectual property rights protection, and less than transparent public
contracting and procurement procedures 1 .

Imports - Require ments

Licensing Requirements for Commercial Activities - Joint Ventures & Agent

Agent Requirements

       Commercial Law 36 of 1964, as amended by Commercial Law 68 of 1980,
        governs the establishing of a business or business relationship in the State of
        Kuwait. Under the above provisions, a foreign firm (including a partnership) may
        not establish a branch and may not perform any commercial activities in the
        country except through a Kuwaiti agent. Foreign and U.S. firms seeking a
        presence in the Kuwait market may do so utilizing commercial agents, distributors
        or service agents.

       Both agents and, if possible, their principals, should periodically visit existing and
        new customers since the importance of personal contact in Kuwait cannot be

       Foreign companies cannot sell directly to the Government nor participate in
        public tenders except through a local agent. In the oil sector, for instance,
        supplying companies should be approved by an internal committee and placed on
        a list of „pre-approved‟ companies. For major projects, international companies
        are usually invited to pre-qualify.

Licensing Requirements for Comme rcial Activities – Joint Ventures

       In order to establish a business in Kuwait, the Kuwaiti firm or joint venture needs
        to apply for a business license issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
        Application documentation must be in Arabic. For special commercial activities
        such as telecommunications, health services, pharmaceuticals etc. the relevant
        ministry, department or regulatory agency may require other certificates or

       Given that all government procurement must be conducted with Kuwaiti citizens
        or firms and given that only Kuwaiti companies may be licensed in Kuwait, the

    US Country Co mmercial Gu ide fo r Kuwait
       joint venture model is a good vehicle in order to enter and maintain a long-term
       presence in Kuwait.

Import Regulations

    The residents of non Kuwaiti origin and companies having 100% foreign
     capital participation do not have authorization to import for purposes of
     marketing / selling in that country.

    Non Kuwaiti inhabitants and 100% foreign capital companies are not allowed to
     import for commercial purposes.

Import Licenses

    Importers must obtain an annual import license from the Ministry of Commerce
     and Industry and must be registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry
     and the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Licenses are valid for one
     year and allow for multiple shipments.

       Kuwait requires a special import license for firearms.

    Import licenses for industrial machinery and spares are also required.

    Licenses are issued by the Industrial Development Commission of the Ministry of
     Commerce and Industry.

    Specific licenses are also issued from various ministries and agencies for products
     including firearms, explosives, drugs/pharmaceuticals, and wild/exotic animals.

    Though not a trade barrier, the State of Kuwait prohibits products including pork,
     pork products, alcoholic beverages, products containing alcoho lic beverages,
     gambling machines, and pornographic materials.

    Recorder appliances may be imported subject to a special license from the
     Ministry of Information.

    Wireless appliances telephones, fax switch boards, radios, computers, fax
     machines, modems, mobile telephones and specific corded telephones require a
     special licence from the Ministry of Communication.

    Children toys containing components similar to foodstuffs, drinking water and
     fruit juices produced in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, chocolate from Lebanon, food
     products including honey, tomato pasta and biscuits from Saudi Arabia, and
     herbal essences from Bahrain may be imported subject to special licences issued
     by the Kuwait Municipality.
    Import of diluted isopropyl and methyl alcohol as well as appliances which
     emanate electromagnetic X-ray require an approval from the Ministry of

    All kinds of manufactured cigarettes and its components, pure tobacco and
     derivatives need a special licence from the Environment Protection Department.

    The Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Sea Resources has
     responsibility for issuing special licences for veterinary drugs and vaccinations,
     all kinds of provender used for poultry, stallions and cows for breeding, and
     animal products such as leather, hair, wool and bowels imported from outside the
     GCC, live sea species, horses, cats and dogs food.

    The Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Sea Resources is also
     responsible for authorizing imports of fruits and vegetables, wood, seeds and

    Psychotropic and controlled substances for medical use, and medical equipment
     require a special licence from the Ministry of Public Health. The Ministry of
     Public Health also issues special import licences for all kind of brushes.

    Goods which bear some advertisement for propaganda in the originating country,
     special stickers showing the validity of food products, and empty bags used for
     food products require a special licence from the Ministry of Commerce. Colour
     photocopying machines need a special import licence.

Documentation Requirements

    Additional licenses or certificates may be required for various products.

    In Kuwait, the import clearing process has historically been time-consuming,
     requiring numerous transfers, large quantities of paperwork and numerous
     redundancies. However, the Customs Department is currently undergoing a
     major privatization effort, contracting with a private company to provide customs
     support services.

Bill of Lading Requirements

Given Kuwait‟s import license regime, the importer license holder‟s name must appear
on the bill of lading. The importer must be a Kuwaiti national.

Special Documents Required
Certificate of Free Sale: Cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and foodstuffs may require a
certificate of free sale stating that the commodities in question are in free circulation in
the country of export. Applicants should submit the label and complete formula of the
pharmaceutical to be exported.

Import Restrictions & Prohibitions

Kuwait's economy is liberal. As per the regulation of imports, it is to be known that
alcohol drinks, pork meat, gambling machines, subversive and pornographic periodicals
and movies as well as goods relating to the Arab boycott towards Israel are prohibited.
Used medical equipment and automobiles over five years old cannot be imported.

Kuwait Import Prohibitions

Bearer Documents



Gold (18k or Below)

Ice, Dry

Ice, Wet

Liquor, Non-Haz

Metals, Precious

Micro Film

Poisons (Toxics)

Pornographic (Media)




Items offensive to Muslim culture.

Items offensive to Kuwait Royal family, Kuwait politics, habits or traditions.
Any media displaying the female anatomy.

Jewelry, gold, precious metal, stones and silver (watches and articles of apparel or
clothing containing these metals or stones) are prohibited inbound/outbound if valued
over $1000 USD.

Mobile and specific cordless telephones, black-cumin oil and products
thereof, drain pipes and welded black steel pipes which measure from 6 to
48 inches except those from member countries of the GCC may not be

The following products are prohibited for human health protection reasons:
chewing tobacco, insecticides, food products containing cyclamate
substance in its ingredients, drinking water coolers which have cooling
pipes inside the water tanks, asbestos products, magnetic equipment used
for medical treatment and which is not based on a scientific source,
anaesthetic substances, medical products containing oxpenistine and
phenformin hydrochloride, pharmaceutical goods for vaginal uses, medical
and industrial oxygen except that produced in member states of the GCC.

Live chicken except one-day old may not be imported.

Ring-necked parakeet or rose-ringed parakeet, all kinds of birds from Africa,
monkeys and wild animals may not be imported for wildlife protection reasons.

All kinds of gas cylinders, and regulators except those imported by Kuwait
Oil Tanker Company (KOTC) are prohibited.

The importation of small buggies is prohibited as well as motor vehicles
older than five years.

Components for fireworks, arms and ammunition, uniforms similar to military
uniforms, related medals and all kinds of ready- made garments resembling
police uniforms are prohibited.

As a member of the League of Arab States, Kuwait applies the different
degrees of the embargo decreed by this institution in 1954 as amended with
regard to products originating in Israel.

Candy shaped as cigarettes and kept in boxes similar to those of cigarettes
may not be imported.

Chemical tearful components with awful smells which are sold in markets for
fun articles are prohibited.
Various items may not be imported for religious reasons. These include
alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beverages similar to beer, and alcoholic
vanilla solution.

General Import Restrictions

The following items are not acceptable for carriage to any international destinations
unless otherwise indicated. (Additional restrictions may apply depending on destination.
Various regulatory clearances in addition to customs clearance may be required for
certain commodities, thereby extending the transit time.)

      APO/FPO addresses.
      C.O.D. shipments.
      Human corpses, human organs or body parts, human and animal embryos,
       or cremated or disinterred human remains.
      Explosives (Class 1.4 explosives are acceptable for carriage to Canada, Germany,
       Japan, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom. Note: United Arab Emirates
       only allows Class 1.4 explosives to be shipped hold- for- pick- up to the FedEx
       Express facility in Dubai.)
      Firearms, weaponry, and their parts (acceptable between the U.S. and Puerto
      Perishable foodstuffs and foods and beverages requiring refrigeration or other
       environmental control.
      Live animals (including insects) except via our Live Anima l Desk
      Plants and plant material, including cut flowers (cut flowers are acceptable from
       the U.S. to selected points in Canada and from Colombia and Ecuador to the
      Lottery tickets and gambling devices where prohibited by local, state, provincial
       or national law.
      Money (coins, cash, currency, paper money and negotiable instruments equivalent
       to cash such as endorsed stocks, bonds and cash letters).
      Collectible coins and stamps.
      Pornography.
      Hazardous waste, including, but not limited to, used hypodermic needles or
       syringes or other medical waste.
      Shipments that may cause damage to, or delay of, equipment, personnel or
       other shipments.
      Shipments that require any special license or permit for transportation,
       importation or exportation.
      Shipments whose carriage, importation or exportation is prohibited by any law,
       statute or regulation.
      Shipments with a declared value for customs in excess of that permitted for a
       specific destination.
      Dangerous goods except as permitted under the Dangerous Goods section of these
       terms and conditions.
      Dead animals (including insects) or animals that have been mounted.
       Packages that are wet, leaking or emit an odor of any kind.
       Shipments moving into or out of Foreign Trade Zones or bonded warehouses
       Shipments destined to or being withdrawn from a Foreign Trade Zone.
       Shipments being processed under:
       Duty drawback claims unless advance arrangements are made.
       Temporary Import Bonds - acceptable under the FedEx International Broker
        Select option, for initial import only.
       U.S. State Department licenses.
       Carnets.
       U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration export permit.
       Letters of Credit (however, shipments covered by a Letter of Credit calling for a
        "Courier Receipt" as defined by Article 29 of UCP 500 may move via FedEx
        International Priority).
       Certificate of Registration shipments (CF4455).

Standards & other Technical Requirements

           1. Standards, Testing & Certification

     The Government of Kuwait, per its notification to the World Trade Organization‟s
      Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade, eliminated pre-shipment standards
      inspection under the International Conformity Certification Program (ICCP) and
      is currently working with the Gulf Cooperation Council Standards Organization
      (Riyadh) to develop a region wide standards regime to replace the ICCP.

     Standards in Kuwait are governed by the Standards and Metrology Department of
      the Public Authority for Industry.

     All products must comply with the Kuwaiti standards (Kuwaiti standard
      specification, KSS). If there are not specific standards to be applied, then, the
      Gulf countries' standards must be established.

     Standards in Kuwait are governed by the Standards and Metrology Department of
      the Public Authority for Industry. Approximately 300 standards are currently
      being applied, with standards being potentially derived from U.S., EU, ISO and
      GCC standards to meet the needs of Kuwait.

     Kuwait has adopted several Gulf Cooperation Council standards, including that
      major white and brown household appliances can operate without a
      transformer at 240 V/50 Hz and that instruction manuals for durable goods and
      appliances be translated in Arabic.

     Kuwait strictly enforces government- mandated shelf life standards on 44 of 75
      food products listed in Gulf Standard 150/1993, but recognizes the shelf- life
      established by manufacturers on all other food products. Shelf- life requirements
      for processed foods are far shorter than necessary to preserve freshness and result
   in processed U.S. goods being non-competitive with products shipped from
   countries geographically closer to Kuwait.

 Standards for medical, telecommunications and computer equipment tend to
  lag behind technological developments, with the result that government tenders
  frequently specify the purchase of obsolete, often more costly items.

       2. Conformity Assessment

 In March 2003, Kuwait implemented an International Conformity Certification
  Program (ICCP) requiring that covered products be tested and certified by a
  single private company before being exported to Kuwait. The program applied
  to imports of: (1) household appliances and electronics; (2) new and used cars
  and vehicles; (3) chemicals, including motor oil and paint; (4) building
  materials, including cement, gypsum and bricks; and (5) paper and plastic items.

 A certificate of origin is required for all imports. Certificates of origin shall be
  attested by the appropriate chamber of commerce.

 Food products require a health certificate. The standards used are based on the
  World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization
  (WHO/FAO) Codex Alimentarius recommendations. Kuwait has some very
  specific regulations which restrict the import of food products based on the expiry
  date and age of the products relative to its production date.

 Medical and industrial oxygen imported from member states of the GCC require a
  certificate of quality from the Gulf Specification Authority or an approved
  international certificate of origin.

 Animals imported into Kuwait require a veterinary health certificate.

 Plants and plant products imported from non- member countries of the GCC
  require a health certificate under art. 2 of the decree No. 9/1985.

 Imported tyres require an examination certificate from the country of origin.

 Pork tissues or lard are not permitted in formulated products.

 Cigarettes and tobacco products must bear a warning against the health damages
  of tobacco.

 Kuwait strictly enforces labeling requirements. All food products must carry a
  label in Arabic or English/Arabic stating the name of the manufacturer, the brand
  name and the name of the product, a list of ingredients and additives, net and gros
  weight in metric units, country of origin and its production and expiry dates. All
  fats and oils used as ingredients must be specifically identified on the label.
 All imported meat and poultry products require a health certificate from the
  country of origin and a halal slaughter certificate issued by an approved Islamic
  centre in the country of origin. Tinned meat and poultry must carry a label
  indicating that the goods have been produced in conformity with Islamic way of
  slaughtering animals.

 In conformity with the resolution No. 167 of 1989, pharmaceutical products
  must be registered with the Drug Control & Registration Administration.
  Veterinary medical products must be registered in accordance with the decree
  No. 146/1989.

 The United States and other WTO Members raised concerns about the ICCP
  bilaterally and during meetings of the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade
  Committee. In November 2004, the PAI (Public Authority for Industry) indicated
  that it would introduce changes to the ICCP and transition to a new Kuwait
  Conformity Assessment Scheme (KUCAS). The KUCAS does not appear to
  differ substantially from the ICCP. The United States is evaluating the impact of
  KUCAS in order to determine whether it has alleviated previous concerns.

       3. Labeling and Marking Requirements

               A. Labeling

 Labels stating the country of origin must be shown on all imported goods in such
  a manner that it cannot be removed or altered.
 The information appearing on the label must conform to the information listed in
  the shipping documentation.
 If it were impossible to label a product i.e. a piece of fruit, a label affixed to the
  package, container or can would be sufficient.
 If the product contains components from more than one country, the percentage of
  each countries components to the overall finished product should be noted.

               B. Special Labels

 Pharmaceuticals: Pharmaceutical products must be labeled with the batch or
  lot number, production date, expiration date, content description, storage
  information, usage information, indications and contra indications for use, and
  reference to the pharmacopoeia standards used.

 Food Products: Labels must show the product and brand name; origin of any
  animal fats; batch number; ingredients in descending order of proportion;
  additives; net contents in metric units; date of production; date of expiration;
  name     and     address    of   manufacturer/packer;    country    of origin
  storage/preparation/handling instructions; and nutritional information where
      applicable (U.S. nutrition labels would be generally accepted). All meat and
      poultry products would need to be labeled that the product was slaughtered in
      accordance with Islamic Law. Information must be in Arabic, however multi-
      lingual labels are acceptable.

                 C. Marking

    The outside marking on each package or container should identify the name of the
     shipper, the name and address of the consignee, the weight of the package, the
     number of the package if shipped as a part of a bulk shipment, and the country of
     origin. If products are of U.S. origin, “Made in the U.S.A.” should be clearly
     marked on the package.

Government Procurement

    Kuwait is neither a signatory to nor an Observer at the WTO agreement on
     government procurement.

    There is a 10 percent price preference on public contracts in favor of Kuwaiti
     businesses. If a contracting officer or authority determines that a local company
     meets the technical specifications per the request for proposal, and though the bid
     price may be higher (within 10 percent), the local company may be awarded the
     public contract. In 2004, the Council of Ministers agreed to increase this price
     advantage to 15 percent. However, implementation of this increase will require
     amendment of the GCC countries‟ unified agreement, which has not yet occurred.

    Government Procurement Requirements Law Number 37 of 1964 (Articles 43 and
     44) specifies the use of local products when available and prescribes a 15 percent
     price advantage for local firms in government tenders.