Saudi Arabia – Not Just for Oil

oil fieldsSaudi Arabia – Not Just for Oil

When one thinks of Saudi Arabia and international trade, oil typically comes to mind first, but times are changing. The price of oil has been on the decline over the past couple of years and as such Saudi Arabia has been diversifying its economy. As a result, opportunities exist for exporters.

Saudi Arabia is the 19th largest exporter and the 20th largest import market in the world. Among the top exports is of course, oil, but also plastics, metal goods, construction materials and electrical appliances. In terms of imports, the country’s leading commodities are vehicles, machinery, electronic equipment and pharmaceuticals. U.S. exporters of these products have found Saudi Arabia to be an excellent market for decades.

Trade Lanes

Diversification and Infrastructure

Diversification is important for Saudi Arabia in order to grow its economy and as such government investments in infrastructure and non-oil industries are on the rise. Not surprising, the construction sector is the largest driver of economic activity in Saudi Arabia after oil particularly as government-sponsored projects such as hospitals, specific industry-related economic hubs and infrastructure are driving most of this need.

Indeed, ambitious infrastructure projects are underway with five rail projects to connect not only the major cities within the country but also to serve as a link between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf as well as with the six other countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). This is an interesting development for many reasons, as the Arabia Peninsula is one of the only regions of the world that jumped to modern air and ocean ports infra structure without first developing a rail network. For U.S. exporters, especially those shipping to major inland points such as Riyadh (the nation’s capital), the presence of rail cargo could lower the cost of inland delivery substantially and increase delivery times.

Expansion plans are also underway at airports in Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah, Nijran, and Tabuk primarily for passengers but will undoubtedly benefit cargo also.

Furthermore, ocean port projects include expansion of the country’s largest port in Jeddah, as well as improvements to ports in Jazan, Al-Madhaya and Fursan. Inland ports are also being built in specific industry-related economic hubs known as Economic Cities.

Along with infrastructure investments, Saudi Arabia has identified several industries for further development such as healthcare, life sciences, automotive, information technology, logistics, alternative energy and manufacturing.

Because of the high volume of imported automobiles and automobile parts, there are particularly high expectations to expand the domestic automobile manufacturing industry. Currently there is local production of light trucks only on a small scale by Isuzu, Daimler, Volvo and MAN. Tata, Jaguar and Land Rover are considering local assembly operations in Saudi Arabia.

In addition, Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest importer of defense equipment and as a result, the government is also working towards developing a manufacturing base for weapons parts and components.

Trade

The Department of Customs at the Ministry of Finance oversees all merchandise moving through Saudi customs ports. In addition, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) are empowered by the Saudi Council of Ministers to have a representative at eight Saudi ports of entry with Saudi Custom officials to regulate and control the entry of medical devices. As such, medical devices are only allowed entry into Saudi Arabia through the three major international airports, two seaports in Jeddah and Dammam, and three land entry points.

On the global front, Saudi Arabia joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2005 and as part of this trade organization is committed to its rules including transparency in trade requirements and more accommodating to non-Saudi businesses. Being a WTO member, Saudi Arabia is expected to bind its tariffs on over three fourths of U.S. exports of industrial goods at an average rate of 3.2%, while tariffs on over 90% of agricultural products are set at 15% or lower.

Additionally, as a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Saudi Arabia applies an external tariff of 5% for most products, with a limited number of GCC-approved country-specific exceptions.

Despite being a member of WTO, Saudi Arabia still favors Saudi businesses. In addition, there are also concerns of counterfeit products. In some consumer goods, for example, it is estimated that as much as 50% of the entire Saudi market is counterfeit. In order to restrict the entry of counterfeit products, the Saudi Customs Authority now requires all imported goods to clearly display the “Country of Origin” or “Made in ….” on items in an irremovable manner.

So, Saudi Arabia is much more than oil. True, oil still remains a leading export commodity but the country is working hard to diversify from its dependence and as such suppliers of numerous industries such as automotive, pharmaceutical, consumer goods and manufacturing should benefit as this country opens its doors further to global trade.

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Did we mention compliance is important?

Did we mention compliance is important? Armored Vehicle

In March we highlighted the Top 5 Export Markets for U.S. Made Defense, Emergency and Security Vehicles. Despite being a highly specialized segment of the automotive industry, in 2015 we at Crescent Air Freight are experiencing double digit growth in this market as well as in the export of parts and accessories of such vehicles.  While there are significant barriers to entry in the way of manufacturing capabilities and intellectual property, the fact is that growth creates opportunities for sales and also for compliance problems.  Here are some insights into the compliance requirements faced by exporters of security vehicles and their parts and accessories.

 

As we have mentioned in earlier posts, the major two sets of regulations governing the export of defense related equipment, including defense vehicles, are International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR).  EAR apply to products that are known as “dual use” items.  Some examples that come to mind include aircraft radar which can be used for either commercial or military purposes.  In the case of vehicles, a more relevant example would be an armored SUV.  Such vehicles are often exported to countries around the world, especially to countries where domestic law and order circumstances require such protection.  However, so long as such vehicle is not armed and contains no military hardware, it is likely to fall under EAR.  “Likely” is the key word here, as there are additional factors that go into considering which regulations apply.  While most manufacturers are aware of the applicable regulations, an experienced logistics provider with experience in defense related shipments can assist in making such determinations.

 

While EAR oversight falls under the Department of Commerce (and specifically the Bureau of Industry and Security) ITAR falls under the purview of the Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls.  ITAR applies to military goods or articles and is highly relevant to the export sales of U.S. defense contractors.  In the security vehicles market ITAR regulations apply directly to exports to U.S. military or other military entities.  As with EAR, there are significant variations and clauses in ITAR that must be adhered to in order to maintain compliance.  In the case of the armored example mentioned above, ITAR would apply in place of EAR had the vehicle been outfitted with hardware to attach a weapon to it.  Here too, however, there are substantial variations to be considered for proper classification and while a manufacturer or distributor of such equipment must have a proper “in house” compliance process, and experienced logistics service provider can offer some guidance in the classification process.

 

MRAP InteriorIn addition to the classification of the vehicle or equipment, exporters must also be aware of whether or not the destination country falls under any restrictions or bans for defense or security trade, and this may even apply to countries through which the vehicle transits.  For example, a client of ours ships parts for MRAP’s and Humvees for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, under an ITAR license.  However, their license does not allow their goods to transit through Azerbaijan.  This is significant because the most cost effective routing for air freight to Afghanistan is via Baku, Azerbaijan.  In order to maintain compliance we devised a new routing for the client that allows their product to travel only through nations that are approved for such goods under ITAR regulations.  Regulations also apply to components attached to the vehicle, hence supply chain managers need to be aware of the country of manufacture of parts and accessories that they have sourced for the final product.

 

Irrespective of which license applies, and the fact that manufacturers and distributors are likely to maintain internal compliance programs, one of the most important steps of the defense export transaction that a logistics provider must demonstrate competence with is the proper filing of the Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) – now known as the EEI.  While the EEI filing is required for all U.S. exports in excess of $2,500.00, there are special classifications for goods shipped to the U.S. military, foreign militaries and foreign governments, all of which are relevant to the export of security vehicles and other defense equipment. 

 

As political events continue to drive demand for U.S. made defense, emergency and security equipment the need for proper compliance is more important than ever before.  Crescent Air Freight offers its clients the resources needed to support their export business in defense and commercial trade.

 

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Top 5 Markets for U.S. Defense, Emergency & Security Vehicles

Top 5 Markets for U.S. Defense, Emergency & Security Vehiclesdefense vehicles

While U.S. trade in defense, emergency and security vehicles has seen a slowdown in recent years due to the end or drawdowns of overseas conflicts, the fact remains that these products enjoy substantial demand overseas, even in peace time.  Friendly nations continue to be buyers of U.S. defense and security vehicles in support of their domestic defense and law enforcement activities.  Additionally, emergency vehicles, such as ambulances manufactured in the United States, continue to enjoy strong demand overseas due to their capabilities and durability.  Lastly, despite drawdowns and withdrawals from conflicts in the past few years, the United States maintains a significant overseas defense presence that requires ongoing servicing and replenishment in the form of new vehicles and parts thereof.  The data on this market, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau, requires some careful consideration as certain manufacturers may fall into categories that refer to their general defense business which often include categories aside from vehicles.  Meanwhile, a great number of exporters in this segment simply fall under the same classification of conventional heavy vehicles such as trucks.  At Crescent Air Freight, our expertise in the logistics of vehicles and parts thereof for defense, emergency and security vehicles gives us a unique perspective into the handling of these products as well as keen insight into the export markets and trade data that are truly relevant to this sector.  Based on NAICS code 336992, here’s a look at the top five markets for U.S. exporters of defense, emergency and security vehicles:

5. Australia – 2014 U.S. Defense, Emergency & Security Vehicle Exports – US $49MM

Signed in 2007, the Australia-US Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty has opened the door to expanded cooperation between the United States and Australia in the trade of defense and security related goods.  The treaty came into effect in May 2013, and a subsequent increase in shipments of U.S. made military vehicles has ensued.  U.S. exporters of such goods and related components will find easier trade and export control compliance procedures in dealing with Australia, which incidentally has also been a hot market for U.S. exports over the past decade.

4. South Korea – 2014 U.S. Defense, Emergency & Security Vehicle Exports – US $63MM

The United States has maintained a significant military presence in South Korea since the Korean War.  Export data will certainly reflect a bias towards the U.S. military business in the country, however, support for Korean defenses does offer significant opportunity for U.S. manufacturers of such vehicles as well as their components, spares and accessories.

3. Afghanistan – 2014 U.S. Defense, Emergency & Security Vehicle Exports – US $66MM

While combat operations in Afghanistan officially ceased at the end of 2014, the United States continues to be involved in training, equipping and generally supporting Afghan defense and domestic security forces.  Aside from vehicles themselves, we continue to see strong activity in the export of emergency and security vehicle parts such as engines, armor, body kits and affiliated products and believe this will continue for some years to come.

2. Israel – 2014 U.S. Defense, Emergency & Security Vehicle Exports – US $106MM

Like Australia and Saudi Arabia, Israel is neither a recent nor current “war zone” country, nor a place where U.S. combat operations take place.  As a beneficiary of U.S. military aid and cooperation, however, it is a market that is extremely friendly to U.S. exporters of defense vehicles and related components.

1.Saudi Arabia – 2014 U.S. Defense, Export & Security Vehicle Exports – US $253MM

Saudi Arabia is an excellent market for U.S. vehicles and related components in the commercial and defense sectors.  At Crescent Air Freight we have seen continuous and sustained demand for U.S. manufactured components of security vehicles ranging from sirens and light bars to engines, ambulances and armored vehicles for several years.  While there are some concerns about future growth in this market as a result of declining oil prices, it is clear that Saudi government expenditure on its defense and security sector will continue to be a high priority for many years to come.

While we’ve only highlighted the top five markets for U.S. defense, emergency and security vehicles there is significant opportunity for American companies in this sector to export to high demand markets including Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq and Tunisia to name but a few.

At Crescent Air Freight we have developed a range of services in support of our clients who export security vehicles and parts thereof.  We provide U.S. shippers a complete package of services including trade and finance compliance, consolidation and proper shipping procedures and even final delivery solutions.  If you have any questions regarding these overseas markets, or procedures for shipping these goods internationally, please visit our website at www.crescent1.com or contact us at cargo@crescent1.com.

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Preparing Your Defense-Related Exports

Preparing Your Defense Related Exports…Understanding ITAR and EAR and what it means to you!

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Although the occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan are winding down and drastic cuts in military expenditures and exports loom on the horizon, the global demand for U.S. built security vehicles remains high. Highly popular products such as the HUMVEE, MRAP, armor-plated SUV’s and their accessories including light bars, heavy-duty push bumpers and the parts to keep them running will continue to be exported at high levels for the foreseeable future.

Despite the high volume of defense-related exports over the last decade, many dealers and exporters, especially those new to the industry, remain unaware of the regulations governing the export of defense-related products and are at risk of harsh penalties and sanctions.

Exporters are most likely to run afoul of the two main sets of U.S. regulations covering defense trade, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) administered by the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State, and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. ITAR governs the export of items specifically intended for military use while EAR covers so called dual-use items that can be used for either civilian or military purposes.

Logistics providers have no control over the issuance of licenses to exporters under ITAR or EAR. However logistics specialists must have a thorough knowledge of and operate in strict adherence to the regulations to ensure their clients remain in compliance. For example, ITAR contains regulations intended to prevent the unloading of military goods in countries other than their intended destination, or from being diverted in other ways to unintended parties. Logistics providers are responsible for advising their clients on ITAR compliant shipping routes and transit procedures. Another example would be freight forwarders who are responsible for filing Shipper’s Export Declarations to the U.S. Department of Commerce. These filings must be in complete compliance with their regulations to protect their clients from costly penalties. Exporters depend heavily on these logistics specialists for their expertise and knowledge of this sometimes cumbersome and complicated regulatory process.

5 new Iranian defense equipments to be unveiledExporters and dealers who are licensed to operate under the provisions of either ITAR or EAR should be aware that they are required to add any freight forwarding agent they intend to use to their license before they can carry out any transactions. This is intended to ensure that all responsible parties involved in handling a shipment are on record with the relevant authorities.  However, compliance with this regulation also ensures that the exporter takes more care in their choice of forwarder and chooses one with experience and a track record of compliance with the regulations. This requirement doesn’t put an undue burden on the exporter because it is neither a complicated process nor a lengthy one, but it is the law and it protects both the shipper and the forwarder.

Exporters often find it tempting to hire the services of a logistics provider based on the lowest cost, but they should be aware that this can place them at risk of regulation violations that can result in expensive fines and penalties and even the permanent loss of their license to export defense-related products.