Saudi Arabia is eliminating a ban on importing food products with less than half of their remaining official shelf life, via a range of commitments made by its government to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

In a key deal with the United States, Saudi Arabia has promised, "instead of imposing government-mandated expiration periods on food products (to move to) "the acceptance of internationally-recognised manufacturer-determined use-by dates, with the exception of certain perishable foods and baby foods".

Under the WTO's 'most favoured nation' principle, these concessions would apply to all WTO member countries, being made permanent upon its accession. The Saudi government wants this approved in December, but it may come well into next year.