The United Arab Emirates has this fall introduced legislation (Federal Law No. 13 of 2007) concerning the import and export of certain commodities. The new law empowers the authorities to ban or otherwise restrict the import, export and re-export of any commodity for reasons such as safety, public health, protection of the environment and natural resources, national security and foreign policy. The law attempts to standardise relevant control procedures throughout the UAE to maximise effectiveness. An issue in the past has been that the application of such laws has varied between the seven Emirates, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which constitute the UAE. 

National Committee for Commodities (Subject to Import Export and Re-export Controls) is to be set up by the UAE Cabinet and headed by a representative of the Ministry of Economy. The law includes a general framework for control of the issue of import and export licences, but the Committee will itself coordinate with the relevant authorities concerning the introduction of detailed rules for the control of imports and exports.

Strategic commodities, including chemical and biological commodities, are separately regulated in the new law. These strategic commodities extend to arms, military equipment and hardware, chemical and biological materials and dual, military and civilian, use of commodities and related technology. Items are listed that may not be imported without consent, as are items for which intermediaries and brokers may not be used without prior consent. Restrictions extend not only to listed commodities, but also to materials which may be used for military purposes or in the production of military equipment, conventional or WMD.

Provision is made for establishing a National Committee for the Control of Strategic Commodities, which will be tasked with enforcement of the restrictions and procedures relevant to such commodities. There are penalties of imprisonment and substantial fines for those breaching these laws.

This is a very broad overview of legislation that appears in part to be designed to meet concerns expressed by some of the UAE’s Western trading partners. Further regulations are expected to be issued shortly. A subsequent issue of Sentinel will provide further detail. In the meantime, for additional information, please contact the author at our Abu Dhabi, UAE office.