The new customs tariffs implemented on 320 commodities aim to curb imports and encourage local industry, the Ministry of Finance said in a press release on Sunday. These new fees will increase customs revenues by EGP 6bn per year, assuming the level of imports remains at the current rate.
Egypt fully floated the national currency on 3 November in a bid to attract foreign capital inflows, and eliminate the unofficial market and the two exchange rates.
The Egyptian market has been seen a severe shortage in hard cash due to the decline in tourism, low foreign investment, and decreased Suez Canal revenues. Egypt relies on imports to meet a large part of its food needs.
The Official Gazette published the president’s decision to increase customs tariffs on a wide range of products and imported goods on Thursday evening.
The presidential decree is intended to provide the necessary climate to attract investment and give a strong boost to local productivity, Minister of Finance Amr El-Garhy and Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil said in a joint press release issued by the Finance Ministry.
They added that the decision also aims to reduce imports, which have been increasing, leading to a trade deficit of more than $49bn.
The statement pointed out that the new tariffs do not violate Egypt’s obligations to the World Trade Organization (WTO). “The tariffs are in line with the stipulated rates,” the statement read.
It noted that the items imported from countries that have free trade agreements with Egypt will not be affected by this increase as they are exempt from customs tariffs. These countries include the European Union states, Arab countries, Turkey, and the COMESA.
The statement pointed out that the new tariff focused on two basic types of goods. The first is imported commodities with local alternatives, such as furniture, tableware, porcelain, ceramics, carpets, leather, soaps, detergents, cosmetics, pens, satellite receivers and decoders, and electrical appliances.
The second type is consumer goods; the decision is meant to rationalise their consumption to save scarce US dollar reserves for essential goods needed by the public and the industrial sector. This includes fresh fruits, perfumes, shampoos, fruits, cocoa, chocolate, biscuits, bread, sweetened cakes, syrups, ice cream, artificial flowers, jewellery, video games, combs, hairspray, toothbrushes, pens, and crystal.
Furthermore, the statement said that the bulk of the amendments raised existing tariffs by 50%. For instance, the tariff on air conditioners, refrigerators, fans, heaters, electric ovens, shavers, and fluorescent bulbs is now 60% up from 40%.
Custom tariffs on juices rose from 5% to 20%, for ice cream from 40% to 60%; customs on gum rose from 40% to 60%, baked goods, carpets and floor coverings from 30% to 60%, matchsticks, fireworks, leather goods, perfumes, cosmetics, and ornaments from 40% to 60%, artificial flowers from 10% to 60%, and safety clothing from 10% to 20%.
The decision also raised customs tariff on coloured glass and crystal from 10% and 20% depending on type. Tariff on doors, windows, locks and some sanitary products were increased from 20% to 40% as a minimum and 60% for maximum tariff value.