Legal framework

Domestic legislation

What is the main domestic legislation as regards trade remedies?

The GCC Common Law on Anti-Dumping, Countervailing Measures and Safeguard Measures and its Rules of Implementation as ratified by UAE Federal Law No. 7 of 2005 (the Anti-Dumping Law) is the primary legislation with respect to trade remedies.

International agreements

In general terms what is your country’s attitude to international trade?

The UAE has long been a hub for international trade and continues to seek to expand that role through trade, investment and development, primarily focused on diversifying the economy, emphasising competitiveness and technology sectors. Furthermore, the UAE focuses on free zones and economic specialised zones, which form important facets of the UAE economy and its growth strategy. Advantages for investment within free zones include no corporate or personal income taxes (which is the same throughout the UAE), exemptions from customs duties and exemptions from several domestic regulations that apply within the customs territory; moreover, foreign ownership in free zones is not limited to 49 per cent, as it is within the customs territory. Currently, about two-thirds of exports of non-oil related products are from free zones.

The Unified Economic Agreement of 1981 (UEA) under the GCC created a free trade area between the GCC states and is compatible with article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994). The free trade area eliminated customs duties and other restrictive regulations on commerce in all trade between GCC states for goods originating in the GCC.

The UAE is a member of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), which entered into force on 1 January 1998. GAFTA eliminated all customs tariffs among GAFTA member states as of 1 January 2005. GAFTA covers trade in goods only; however, members are involved in negotiations to create an agreement in trade of services.

In 2015, the UAE, as part of the GCC, entered into free trade agreements with Singapore and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Currently, the UAE and its GCC partners are negotiating free trade agreements with the EU, Japan, China, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Mercosur, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. The UAE has also concluded several trade, economic and technical cooperation agreements with various countries.

Trade defence investigations (outside the WTO dispute settlement system)

Government authorities

Which authority or authorities conduct trade defence investigations and impose trade remedies in your jurisdiction?

The Department of Anti-Dumping (DOA) within the UAE Ministry of Economy (MOE): www.economy.gov.ae/english/Ministry/MinistrySectors/IndustrialAffairsSector/anti-dumping/Pages/actions.aspx.

Complaint filing procedure

What is the procedure for domestic industry to start a trade remedies case in your jurisdiction? Can the regulator start an investigation ex officio?

An investigation may be initiated in response to a complaint filed by a UAE industry against dumped imports into the UAE or ex officio by the DOA. Industries considering filing an anti-dumping complaint must lodge an application with the DOA evidencing dumping, injury and a causal link between the dumped imports and the alleged injury. Once the complaint is filed, the DOA will examine the complaint to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify the initiation of an anti-dumping investigation and, if the conditions are met, an investigation will be initiated. An anti-dumping investigation is normally concluded within 12 months or up to a maximum of 18 months, during the course of which the DOA provides all interested parties in filing a complaint - in particular, exporters, producers and importers - the opportunity to submit their views, hold public hearings and send questionnaires to the involved parties in order to collect relevant information. If all the conditions are met, an anti-dumping duty will be imposed on imports of the concerned products originating in or exported from the exporting country or countries concerned. The DOA provides a flowchart with respect to the investigation procedures, which can be found at www.economy.gov.ae/english/Ministry/MinistrySectors/IndustrialAffairsSector/anti-dumping/Documents/Document%205%20Flow%20Charts%20-%20English%20-%20DumpingEV.pdf.

Contesting trade remedies

What is the procedure for foreign exporters to defend a trade remedies case in your jurisdiction?

Generally, parties are notified of an investigation through diplomatic channels and through public publications. The DOA, once having initiated an investigation, will also send questionnaires to concerned parties. Exporters are able to defend trade remedies cases by making submissions to the DOA.

WTO rules

Are the WTO rules on trade remedies applied in national law?

The UAE has been a member of the WTO since 10 April 1996 as well as a member of GATT since 8 March 1994. However, WTO rules do not take precedence over domestic law. Having said that, the UAE complies with WTO rules, agreements and commitments and the UAE’s trade remedies are generally consistent with the WTO. The UAE’s trade remedy rules, as legislated in the Anti-Dumping Law, are based on the respective WTO rules.

Appeal

What is the appeal procedure for an unfavourable trade remedies decision? Is appeal available for all decisions? How likely is an appeal to succeed?

A separate appeal regime does not exist with regard to trade remedies. However, the general rule is that any ministerial decision is appealable to the Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance (ADCFI). The DOA is a department within the MOE and, therefore, its decisions may be appealed to the ADCFI.

Review of duties/quotas

How and when can an affected party seek a review of the duty or quota? What is the procedure and time frame for obtaining a refund of overcharged duties? Can interest be claimed?

Precise information related to this question is not available; however, it appears that this would fall under the remit of the DOA and, therefore, these types of issues would have to be dealt with as part of the trade remedy hearings held by the DOA.

Compliance strategies

What are the practical strategies for complying with an anti-dumping/countervailing/safeguard duty or quota?

This is rather fact-specific and would depend on the particular issues attributed to the case.

Customs duties

Normal rates and notification requirements

Where are normal customs duty rates for your jurisdiction listed? Is there an exemption for low-value shipments, if so, at what level? Is there a binding tariff information system or similar in place? Are there prior notification requirements for imports?

Generally, most customs duty is calculated on cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value at a flat rate of 5 per cent, with the exception of alcohol products (50 per cent duty) and tobacco products (100 per cent duty). CIF value is normally calculated by reference to the commercial invoices associated with the related shipment; however, the customs authorities of each individual Emirate are not required to accept the figures if the goods have been undervalued, and may set an estimated value on the goods.

There are various exemptions to customs duty, such as essential items (including staple foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals) as well as items that are for personal use purposes.

Further information can be obtained from the UAE Federal Customs Authority (FCA) website: www.fca.gov.ae.

Special rates and preferential treatment

Where are special tariff rates, such as under free trade agreements or preferential tariffs, and countries that are given preference listed?

The UAE has a standard tariff rate of 5 per cent, with some specific exceptions.

How can GSP treatment for a product be obtained or removed?

Not applicable.

Is there a duty suspension regime in place? How can duty suspension be obtained?

No.

Challenge

Where can customs decisions be challenged in your jurisdiction? What are the procedures?

Article 61 of the Common Customs Law for the GCC States (Common Customs Law) sets out the procedure for settling disputes related to customs decisions. A valuation committee composed of customs administration officials seeks to settle disputes arising between customs and persons concerned with regard to the value of imported goods. The committee may seek the assistance of experts at its discretion. However, an importer may also seek to appeal customs decisions to the UAE court with competent jurisdiction.

Trade barriers

Government authorities

What government office handles complaints from domestic exporters against foreign trade barriers at the WTO or under other agreements?

A separate entity or office does not exist and there is no precise information available on dealing with such an issue. As such, complaints from domestic exporters against foreign trade barriers are likely to be dealt with on an ad hoc basis by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOF).

Complaint filing procedure

What is the procedure for filing a complaint against a foreign trade barrier?

There is no precise information with regard to this question and it appears that these types of issues would be dealt with on an ad hoc basis.

Grounds for investigation

What will the authority consider when deciding whether to begin an investigation?

There is no precise information with regard to this question and it appears that these types of issues would be dealt with on an ad hoc basis.

Measures against foreign trade barriers

What measures outside the WTO may the authority unilaterally take against a foreign trade barrier? Are any such measures currently in force?

It is difficult to advise on this particular issue as it has not come up in the past. The UAE could, theoretically, suspend trade as a result of a foreign trade barrier; however, this is completely speculative.

Private-sector support

What support does the government expect from the private sector to bring a WTO case?

The UAE has not, to date, commenced any action or had action commenced against it in the WTO. It would be likely that the UAE government would retain the legal services of a private law firm and charge those fees to the private exporter; however, this is speculative given that there have been no cases in the WTO involving the UAE (aside from as a third party).

Notable non-tariff barriers

What notable trade barriers other than retaliatory measures does your country impose on imports?

General import documentation is required; however, the UAE maintains a free exchange and liberal trading system with limited trade barriers.

Export controls

General controls

What general controls are imposed on exports?

Declaration documents, including packing lists and export invoices, are usually required.

Government authorities

Which authorities handle the controls?

Generally, the FCA and customs authority of each individual Emirate.

Special controls

Are separate controls imposed on specific products? Is a licence required to export such products? Give details.

The UAE has specific types of goods that are restricted or prohibited from being imported, exported or transhipped through the UAE. A specific list can be found at www.dubaicustoms.gov.ae/en/eServices/ServicesForBusinesses/CustomsInformation/Pages/Prohibited-and-Restricted-Goods.aspx.

Supply chain security

Has your jurisdiction implemented the WCO’s SAFE Framework of Standards? Does it have an AEO programme or similar?

Dubai Customs implemented the WCO SAFE Framework and introduced the AEO programme in September 2015, and was the first UAE customs authority to introduce an AEO programme. Other Emirates are expected to follow suit in due course.

Applicable countries

Where is information on countries subject to export controls listed?

There is no centrally available list of countries subject to export controls.

Named persons and institutions

Does your jurisdiction have a scheme restricting or banning exports to named persons and institutions abroad? Give details.

The UAE does not have a centrally available scheme restricting or banning exports to named persons and institutions abroad.

Penalties

What are the possible penalties for violation of export controls?

Specific information is not available.

Financial and other sanctions and trade embargoes

Government authorities

What government offices impose sanctions and embargoes?

Generally, the UAE does not publicise sanctions in place apart from the Arab League Boycott of Israel and specific individuals and entities (eg, designated terrorist individuals and organisations). US, EU and UN sanctions are enforced on an ad hoc basis. The UAE government is ultimately in charge of imposing such sanctions and embargoes.

Applicable countries

What countries are currently the subject of sanctions or embargoes by your country?

There is no publicly available information on whether trade with specific countries or entities is prohibited.

Specific individuals and companies

Are individuals or specific companies subject to financial sanctions?

There is no publicly available information regarding individuals or specific companies that are subject to financial sanctions. It is generally understood that the UAE follows UN sanction protocols.

Other relevant issues

Other trade remedies and controls

Describe any trade remedy measures, import or export controls not covered above that are particular to your jurisdiction.

All measures and controls have been discussed above.

UPDATE & TRENDS

Recent developments

Are there any emerging trends or hot topics in trade and customs law and policy in your jurisdiction?What effects are Brexit, the withdrawal of the US from TPP, the slowdown of TTIP, RCEP; and negotiations of FTAs (such as the EU–Japan Free Trade Agreement) expected to have on your jurisdiction?

No updates at this time.