Stepping stone to a wider world  

Dubai has become an increasingly important destination for a North Yorkshire business selling protective materials and membranes, principally to the construction and oil and gas industries.

Industrial Textiles and Plastics Ltd sells not only to the Gulf state itself but uses it as a springboard to other destinations in the region. Its products include Powerclad scaffolding enclosures, temporary roof protection, flame retardant and Powerply chemically protective clothing materials, Powerlon vapour barriers and Puraflex hydro carbon resistant geomembranes.

The company, formed in 1989, exports a quarter of its production to overseas markets.

“Dubai is becoming much more significant for us,” says export manager Peter Winter. “There’s still a lot of construction going on and this means there’s a lot of potential.

“We also have customers in Dubai who export worldwide and the reason they’re based in Dubai is because of the favourable tax regime. So our products go to neighbouring countries like Oman and Qatar but also to places like the former Soviet Union.”

With Dubai customs requiring Certificates of Origin, ITP’s managing director Marc van der Voort emphasises the importance of firms making it absolutely explicit in quotations exactly what is included – especially since there are two key types of certificate.

The standard, low-cost version issued by Chambers of Commerce is often acceptable. “But sometimes the customs turn that down and want one signed by the Dubai Consulate in London,” says Mr van der Voort. That costs between £300 and £900 extra and it means you can end up losing money on smaller orders.”

And with payments normally conducted via Letters of Credit Mr van der Voort stresses that constant vigilance is needed.

“What we do is ask the customer for a draft Letter of Credit so we can check there are no surprises because once it’s issued it costs both sides money if there are charges for amendments,” he adds.

Mr Winter highlights another potential but easily avoidable potential snag in Dubai – the fact that customs officials insist that all documents are signed in blue rather than black ink.