5 challenges importers faced in 2021

As the covid 19 pandemic hit us out of nowhere, the whole world stopped for a moment. This ‘moment’ lasted a bit longer, in fact, it is still somewhat there. Coronavirus has resulted in various problems in the world economy and business sphere. International trade got hit pretty hard, and it’s still recovering. Here’s a reminder of what challenges importers faced in 2021 and generally while importing to Saudi Arabia.

Challenges importers faced in 2021

Cultural differences

Firstly, we have to mention that not understanding cultural differences can be one of the challenges importers faced in 2021. Doing business with a country like Saudi Arabia requires some preparation. As most of you know, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a well-built, rich, and modernized place. That doesn’t mean it’s westernized, quite the opposite. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country, strongly bonded with religion and religious laws. The key to successful cooperation is to know and respect that. Accordingly, working with logistics companies in Saudi Arabia has to be based on mutual respect for differences. 

people working in an office
Understanding cultural differences can make a big difference for international trade

What not to bring to KSA

There are also technical details concerning imports to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Certain things are forbidden from entering, and you should be carefully informed about everything before planning cooperation. The KSA has a strong no-alcohol policy. Bringing alcohol or even having it in your system while on the border is illegal. The same goes for any adult-related content, weapon, and pork meat, so make sure you research or speak openly to your business partners about it. Keep reading for information on needed licenses and documentation.

Customs and taxes

To be able to ship something to Saudi Arabia you have to get certain permits. First of all, you have to register and get a permit from the Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MCI). There are strict regulations about the permit, as you’ve already read in the last paragraph. It’s necessary to get specific information on illegal stuff to avoid problems. After you get your permit and find a national shipping company of Saudi Arabia to work with, the next thing is customs. The authority that takes care of everything involving international trade is called the Saudi Arabian Department of Customs (SADC). SADC does all the regulations concerning import and export, tax fees and protects the legal economic activities. Everything that’s legal to import has to have a SASO Certificate which indicates that the goods comply with the regulations of KSA and are safe to import. 

challenges importers faced in 2021 are often related to face masks like these in the photo, metaphorically speaking
One of the challenges importers faced in 2021 is definitely working in changed circumstances due to the global coronavirus pandemic

Covid 19 slowed everything down

We are still trying to recover from 2020’s global crisis induced by the coronavirus. As more and more people are getting vaccines in 2021, life has somewhat changed back to more normal. The same goes for international trade, which has suffered a lot during the past year. It is not just about the companies losing a lot of money, it’s about the people too. Lots and lots of people lost their jobs because of the pandemic. The ones that kept their jobs had to work in changing conditions, wearing masks the whole day and practicing social distancing. That can slow down any work process, especially when some of the workers get sick and everyone in contact has to quarantine. Even though the pre-pandemic import and export levels were much higher, the trade had lived on, especially because of necessary goods such as medications, medical equipment, and food.

Packing for international shipping

Challenges importers faced in 2021 also include problems with the lack of information on proper packing. International shipping clearly has certain differences. When shipping goods to Saudi Arabia you have to think about all the necessary licenses and labels your packages have to have to enter the country. All of your packages have to have a label with the country of origin on them. When packing your shipment, you also have to think about the distance it is going to travel. Making sure you properly pack all boxes is essential. Use sturdy more quality boxes for packing. Talk to import export companies in Saudi Arabia and ask for all the needed information.

documents and a notebook on the table
Saudi Arabia has strict rules about imports. Make sure you get all the necessary licenses and documents.

What you need to know if you want to import to Saudi Arabia

  • Organize and prepare to avoid dealing with most challenges importers in 2021.
  • Check the list of forbidden stuff so you avoid problems with the law
  • Ask the company of your choice for information on a warehouse in Saudi Arabia if needed
  • Keep in mind the cultural differences, you don’t want to accidentally offend your partners. Explore Saudi Arabian customs and traditions online so you know what not to do when working with your partners
  • Get licenses, without them the import is impossible
  • Make sure you get all certificates, label the boxes with the country of origin labels, and do whatever you need to get your shipment safely (and legally) to Saudi Arabia
  • Be patient when negotiating, as we are all still facing the consequences of the covid pandemic
  • Be extra careful if you want to import food. Everything needs a HALAL certificate, meaning that the food is sourced and prepared according to Islamic law. This is crucial for meat products. Remember that pork meat and products are illegal.

To summarize

The global trade has definitely been affected by the covid 19 pandemic and is slowly going back to normal. What’s bad about it is that it’s not exactly the same for everyone. Poorer countries and smaller economies are still struggling to get on their feet. Larger economies and richer countries are doing better for sure. The trade maintained a certain flow because of the necessary cargo which included food and medical equipment, but the challenges importers faced in 2021 took a toll on everything. Some countries decided to close and stop importing and exporting, and others faced massive loss of jobs and workforce. As the vaccines are reaching more and more countries, life begins to slowly move back to normal. All we have to do now is to be patient and take care of each other in hopes it will finally come to an end.

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