Saudi Arabia will cut duties on cement imports to five per cent from 20 per cent to help meet rising domestic demand, Saudi media said on Tuesday. The lower duty will not be introduced until January 1 2006. The cabinet agreed on Monday that the government will subsidise cement prices from May 17 until the end of the year so that the effect of the lower duties can be felt immediately, state media said. Cement shares on the Saudi stock exchange rose more than eight per cent last week, during which there had been daily reports of shortages and price hikes as a construction boom in the kingdom fuels demand.
The Gulf Cooperation Council -- which groups Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates -- has agreed to set customs on foreign goods at a uniform 5 percent.