Trade Barriers

Includes the barriers (tariff and non-tariff) that U.S. companies face when exporting to this country.

Last published date: 2022-01-08


Tariffs and duties are revised constantly, so we highly recommend you confirm these before exporting to the United Arab Emirates.

A custom duty of 5% is imposed on imported goods (minus categories that receive zero duties which includes agricultural products and pharmaceuticals). Several emirates impose a 30 percent tax on alcohol sales – Fujairah since 2015, Dubai since 2016, and Abu Dhabi since 2018.  Alcohol sales are banned in Sharjah. 

l and 100% on tobacco products.

Non- Tariff Barriers

Having A Sponsor, An Agent, or Distributor

 Foreigners opening a company in the United Arab Emirates no longer need an Emirati shareholder or agent under changes to UAE Commercial Companies Law that went into effect on June 1, 2021.  However, foreign ownership limitations remain for companies carrying out activities of strategic importance.  The amendments also removed the requirement for branches of foreign companies in the UAE to appoint a UAE national agent, for most activities.

For those activities where an agent is still required, terminating a non-performing agent, or a distributor, is extremely difficult in the UAE.  In March 2010, the UAE issued Federal Law No. 2 of 2010 amending certain provisions of the Commercial Agency Law; later revised in 2015.  The amendments prevent the termination, or non-renewal, of a commercial agency unless the principal has a material reason to justify the termination or non-renewal. Further, a principal may not re-register the commercial agency in the name of another agent even if the previous agency was for a fixed term unless: (i) it is amicably terminated by the principal and the agent; (ii) termination or non-renewal is for justifiable reasons that are satisfactory to the Commercial Agencies Committee; or (iii) a final judicial judgment is issued ordering the termination of the agency.  

It is extremely important to conduct thorough due diligence on prospective commercial agents and to carefully draft agreements to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Commercial Agency Law.


UAE Federal Law sets out preferences for hiring UAE nationals and for some administrative positions requires that only UAE nationals be employed.  If an onshore company has more than 50 employees, it must employ a minimum percentage of UAE nationals in accordance with the “Emiratization” policy of the UAE Federal Government.  The Emiratization policy applies to both the public and the private sector, and both local and international companies operating in the UAE are subject to the Emiratization policy.

For more information and help with trade barriers please contact the U.S. Commercial Service team in the UAE.