A pilot scheme that used the latest smart technology to process trucks on the King Fahd Causeway between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia is to be rolled out permanently after trucks were able to cross the bridge 12 times faster than before.
The huge gains will boost trade in a year when Bahrain is already expecting to see billions of dollars flowing back into Bahrain economy once the Causeway reopens and tourists return, according to the Bahrain Economists Society.
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The pilot scheme has been running since January 2020, and the Causeway authority has now signed an MoU with Saudi Arabian platform provider Tabadul who will be responsible for rolling the scheme out to all cargo traffic on both sides of the border.
The platform will allow drivers to book appointments with customs authorities in both Bahrain and KSA, making the crossing process much more efficient and facilitating swifter trade between the two Kingdoms.
Dr Ali Al-Moulani, President of the Bahrain Economists Society said: “Trade between Saudi and Bahrain reached 10.9 billion SAR (US$ 2.9 billion) in 2020 – despite the movement of goods being restricted to essentials only for a few months at the height of the pandemic."
“This latest move by the Causeway Authority will improve efficiency for exporters and boost trade between both countries. Manufacturers and exporters will directly benefit from this investment in improved connectivity and advanced digital infrastructure.”
This announcement is the latest in a package of transformational decisions taken to improve the movement of goods between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In the last year, the Bahrain Customs Authority automated data collection and installed AI-scanners that allowed shipment inspections to take place before cargo reached the border.
Throughout 2020, the customs authority has also overseen the expansion of the authorized Economic Operator program – an MoU between Bahrain and Saudi that facilitates faster processing for AEO-awarded companies – benefitting many large multinationals like Mondelez and Arla who are using Bahrain as their regional hub.
The developments on the Causeway follow the opening of a new terminal at Bahrain International Airport as well as big investments in technology at Bahrain Logistics Zone, the Bahrain International Investment Park and the Khalifa Bin Salman Port.
Plans are underway for a second bridge connecting Bahrain and KSA, offering enhanced capacity for cargo trucks as well as the latest technologies to enhance export activity and improved customs processes.