New clearance procedures helped Bahrain's imports  goods, clothes and food jump by 21 per cent in 2012 as against the previous year, according to a top official.
Goods worth BD103.1 million ($270.4 million) were imported into Bahrain last year, compared to BD85.5 million in 2011, Customs Affairs director of Sea Ports Customs Khalifa Al Shomeli was quoted as saying in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.He revealed the number of containers imported also rose from 85,818 to 89,832 during the same period as a result of a new computerised clearance system.It was introduced following directives from Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa to improve services."Clearance procedures used to take two to three days, but thanks to the computerised system it now takes a maximum of 15 to 30 minutes," said Al Shomeli. "Such a cut in timing has helped move goods quickly and allows efficient control of the port."It also shows that local trade  has been revived and Bahrain has regained its reputation as a business hub and a logistic area for the Gulf."The system records information about the type of goods being imported and exported and the details of the agent or person involved."This way it can feed all remaining customs branches, whether sea, air or land, information about imports and importers as well as exports," said Al Shomeli."If someone tried to smuggle something to Bahrain through sea and was arrested, his information will be in the system to ensure he is identified if he tries to do it again via land, through the causeway, or air through the airport."Plans are underway to link other government bodies to the system, including the Health, Industry and Commerce, and Interior ministries, Civil Defence and the Supreme Council for Environment.Sea ports account for 82 per cent of Bahrain's imports, with the main one being the Khalifa Bin Salman Port.Other key entry points include the Mina Salman Port and Asry Port in the Hidd industrial area, North Sitra Industrial Port and Ba per cento Wharf.Remaining imports come in via King Fahad Causeway and Bahrain International Airport .Bahrain has 170 port inspectors, 32 of whom work at the Khalifa Bin Salman Port."We have ambitions to increase the number of inspectors at sea ports," said Al Shomeli. "We also seek to have more patrols inside port premises to ensure security following the increase of imports and ships."