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How VAT in Bahrain impacts neighbouring GCC countries
Value-added tax, being all pervasive, impacts a country’s economy as well as the industries therein. Furthermore, VAT impact also spills over to the import and export of goods and services. The UAE, all along, has business ties with Bahrain through either a local presence in Bahrain (as branch or local entity) or through export/import of goods or services.
Typically, after the introduction of VAT in a country, businesses discover that their entire business ecosystem – i.e., their vendors, suppliers and customers located in and outside the country – are also part of their business. Underlying reason for this tectonic shift is the fact that in VAT, businesses cannot take unilateral decisions and have to take decisions bilaterally as a buyer can debate on the applicability of VAT (for example, whether the transaction qualifies as ‘export’ or not).
As mentioned above, dependency between the supply chain intensifies, particularly, in cases of outbound supply of goods (like goods being supplied to Bahrain from the UAE).
Typically, in such transactions there are two aspects to be vetted, one whether the supply qualifies as export from UAE and whether the transaction qualifies as import in Bahrain. Thus, it is advisable for UAE entities having business interests in Bahrain to initiate early dialogue on the likely impact to identify possible issues and documentation requirements to avoid VAT debates/disputes with customers.
Import of goods
Typically, VAT is payable at the time of import of goods (unless facility of deferment is provided) along with customs duty.
Thus, after introduction of VAT, imports in Bahrain may attract VAT and thus, at the time of import itself it will be critical to determine the applicability of VAT on goods being imported in Bahrain (as certain goods such as specified medicines may not attract VAT). Also, procedural aspects like declaration of the VAT registration number on import documents, linking of the VAT number with customs, etc, also become critical during transition.