Egypt sharply increases customs duties as it seeks to curb imports

Egypt has sharply raised customs duties on more than 300 goods, to 60 percent for many items, to encourage domestic production and curb a ballooning trade deficit, part of a broader government effort to reform the ailing economy.
The finance ministry said in a statement that the tariff increases on 320 categories of goods targeted manufactured products that are also made locally, such as carpets, ceramics and cosmetics.
Tariffs on carpets doubled to 60 percent from 30 percent. Duties were also raised on goods that were deemed non-essential, including items such as fresh fruit, shampoo and toothbrushes.
The finance ministry said the new tariffs would boost customs revenues by 6 billion Egyptian pounds ($339 million) a year, if imports remained at current volumes.
Duties on cosmetics, dairy products, air conditioners, fans, refrigerators, microwave ovens and a host other goods were increased to 60 percent from 40 percent.
The ministry said that the increases, which take immediate effect, were in compliance with World Trade Organisation standards.
The tariff increases do not apply to countries or blocs with which Egypt has active free trade agreements.
They are the second tariff hikes this year in Egypt, which depends on imports of everything from wheat to luxury cars and where inflation is already in double digits.
The first round came in January, when Egypt was struggling with a shortage of dollars due to a sharp drop in foreign investment following political turmoil over the past few years. The government also blamed the shortage of dollars partially on excessive reliance on imports.

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