New Customs strategy

A NEW hybrid air-sea logistics service is part of a plan to completely overhaul Bahrain Customs Affairs, it has been revealed.

The strategy includes the introduction of highly-advanced technologies, artificial intelligence and cost-saving mechanisms over the next three years.

Customs president and World Customs Organisation chairman Shaikh Ahmed bin Hamad Al Khalifa said the plan has been outlined under the Customs Affairs Strategy 2021-2024 which is being implemented.

The GDN reported last month that Bahrain had introduced the region’s fastest multi-modal logistics hub.

Offering a two-hour turnaround time for all containers, the new Bahrain Global Sea-Air Hub capitalises both on the kingdom’s strategic position midway between European and Asian markets as well as on its proximity to regional target markets by establishing the most efficient multimodal sea-air transshipment hub in the region with a global reach.

The hub relies on streamlined clearance procedures, optimised logistics, and full digitisation to achieve an end-to-end lead time of just under two hours for goods transiting from Bahrain International Airport to Khalifa Bin Salman Port, and vice versa.

Shaikh Ahmed was speaking during a virtual government media briefing, ‘The Achievements of the Customs Affairs in 2021’, organised by the National Communication Centre in co-operation with Customs Affairs yesterday.

He pointed out that Bahrain’s Customs services were already the fastest in the region.

Last month’s Customs statistics compared to September last year show that BD960 million worth of products were imported by Bahrain (59 per cent increase), 475 violations and offences were noted (94pc increase), 11,000 containers were screened (1pc decrease) and 14,000 trucks imported goods.

“In partnership with the Economic Development Board, we have launched a new hybrid air-sea service that would reduce logistics distance by 50pc and cost by 40pc from Europe to East Asia,” said Shaikh Ahmed.

“The new system will ease the European export procedure on companies using the main Rotterdam Port passing through the Mediterranean Sea, Suez Canal, water channels and the Indian Ocean reaching East Asia.

“The sea routes are a lengthy process, but with Bahrain being geographically in the middle, it would be easier to fly the goods and then ship by sea from here within a maximum two hours of Customs checks.

“We have extended the idea to multiple countries and companies to benefit from the new service that is expected to turn Bahrain into a focal point in goods transfer.”

Shaikh Ahmed revealed that the country is seeing a huge growth in logistics and an influx in electronic trade, which requires continuous review of procedures besides manpower development and updated technologies.

“What earlier took 700 minutes to clear from Customs now takes 50 to 52 minutes.

“Whether it is air, land or sea we are improving significantly and there are plans for advanced technologies, new artificial intelligence and the introduction of new hi-tech equipment from Singapore.

“The best equipment has to be matched with massive training and performances from our manpower and that is also being provided non-stop to refresh and update and be in line with international advancements in the field.

“K9 involvement has also been increased to detect drugs and explosives.”

He said truck movement on King Fahad Causeway has also dropped from 12 hours to 120 minutes. “We are speaking about dairy products and foodstuff that should arrive on time.

“The white goods system from trusted sources which we launched a few years back has also helped thousands of products reach malls easier, there are more government parties interested now to partner with us and they are welcome.”



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