BAHRAIN yesterday became the first country in the region to introduce a customs whitelist to allow an easier flow of supplies to the market.
A list that includes medical equipment, health products and raw chemicals for manufacturing processes was announced at a Press conference at the Interior Ministry’s Customs Affairs headquarters in Hidd.
The initiative has been spearheaded by the Health Ministry, the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) and the Supreme Council for Environment (SCE) and approved by Customs Affairs.
It comes in line with directives by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, to improve logistics and customs clearance in the country.
Customs Affairs president Shaikh Ahmed bin Hamad Al Khalifa said the new system would allow speedier clearance of materials and products through the customs’ green light channel rather than wait for approvals from other parties concerned.
“The whitelist, a pioneering initiative in the region, will enable us to move supplies through the green light channel without delay, waiting for consent from other parties concerned, and this comes as we improve logistics and clearance procedures in the country,” he said.
“However, this modern approach doesn’t mean that customs will compromise risk assessment measures; it just means that the burden is less especially on supplies that could be passed without complications.”
NHRA chief executive Dr Mariam Al Jalahma said medical equipment was classified into four categories with only the simple ones currently being included in the whitelist as research continues on the rest for future inclusion.
“We have eased entry of simple medical equipment such as masks, gloves, wheelchairs and spare parts, but not medicines that could be fiddled with or anything that is consumed or has direct relationship to the body whether surgical or healthcare,” she said.
“We will continue to keep an eye on anything that is counterfeit or could cause harm, by regular inspections and monitoring across health facilities in the country.”
SCE chief executive Dr Mohammed Bin Daina said 1,800 organisations were now registered as importers of chemicals.
“We have put 24 companies on the whitelist that supplies around 2,000 raw chemical products used by industries and for investment purposes,” he said.
“Assessment will continue with a view to add more companies as we move on from this initial phase to a more flexible approach with implementation.”
Health Ministry assistant under-secretary for public health Dr Mariam Al Hajeri said food items and cosmetics imported from major companies have been included in the whitelist because they already undergo specific checks before arriving in Bahrain.
“Our health inspectors are already available at entry points – Bahrain International Airport, the Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Port and the King Fahad Causeway – so we know what items are coming in and their condition and whether they fall within the green light category or need to be tested.”
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