Egypt hikes tariffs on imported goods

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CAIRO: gypt is raising tariffs on some imported goods to up to 60 percent following a decree by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the finance ministry said Sunday.

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The ministry said the measure was introduced to “reduce imports”, which have seen Egypt’s trade deficit soar to more than $49 billion (46 billion euros).

Sisi’s list of hundreds of imported goods set for a tariff rise includes electronic devices, fridges, soaps, cosmetics, various types of shoes, chocolate, and fruit, it said in a statement.

Most tariffs were raised by half, the ministry said, with many products having their tariffs increase to up to 60 percent.

The move comes as Egyptians are struggling to cope with a wave of higher prices—including on imported goods—following six years of political and economic turmoil in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising which toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

The International Monetary Fund last month approved a $12-billion loan for Egypt, which has seen its foreign currency reserves plunge in recent years.

The IMF approval came after Cairo took crucial steps to meet its loan requirements, including slashing fuel subsidies, announcing a value added tax, and floating the Egyptian pound.

But even before these steps, a dollar crunch over the past year had already driven up prices for imports including medicine and other basic goods, causing shortages.

Local manufacturers’ production was also affected, with them needing to import parts or raw materials to make their finished goods locally.

The authorities are already implementing the new tariff system, which is expected to increase annual tariff revenues by 6 billion Egyptian pounds ($337 million, 316 million euros), the ministry said.

Egypt will abide by the free trade agreements it has signed with other countries, it added.

AFP

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