Egypt - Prohibited & Restricted ImportsEgypt - Prohibited & Restricted Impor
Egypt restricts the import of used passenger vehicles. Passenger vehicles may only be imported up to one year after the date of manufacture. Egyptian regulations allow foreign investors to import a vehicle duty-free for their private use in the year of manufacture, provided that approval is obtained from the Chairman of the General Authority for Investments and Free Zones (GAFI). In May 2014, the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry issued a decree banning the importation of motorcycles and three-wheel vehicles, except for tricycles and chassis for trade. The decree bans the importation of CBUs (Completely Built Units) yet allows the importation of SKD (Semi Knocked Down) motorcycle chassis and engines. This ban remains in place today.
Beef and Beef ProductsIn June 2014, Egypt made two notifications to the WTO TBT and SPS Committees– G/TBT/N/EGY/48 and G/TBT/N/EGY/63; and G/SPS/N/EGY/56 and G/SPS/N/EGY/57, respectively – which amended Egypt’s meat and meat varieties standards by establishing a zero tolerance level for synthetic animal growth promotants (synthetic hormones) in foodstuffs of animal origin. The new regulations are not science based and not based on risk assessment as there is no scientific evidence that, in abidance with Codex MRLs, residues of synthetic hormones in beef present a health risk for consumers. In 2016, the United States exported USD 99,252 million of beef and beef varieties to Egypt.
Poultry PartsIn 2005, Egypt banned the import of whole frozen poultry, parts and offal. In 2006, the ban was eased by restricting imports to whole frozen poultry, but continues to ban poultry parts and offal. To protect its domestic poultry industry, Egypt bans the import of poultry parts from all origins, including chicken leg quarters, claiming halal slaughter concerns. The concern over halal requirements is unfounded, as Egypt’s General Organization for Veterinary Services (GOVS) has already inspected and approved 22 U.S. poultry plants for export to Egypt. Inspection teams from GOVS have certified that U.S. slaughtering processes and food-safety measures are in accordance with halal practices. Opposition from domestic poultry producers blocks the import of more affordable, high quality U.S. poultry parts. As a result of the high cost of beef and beef products, lower- and middle-income Egyptians turn to poultry as an alternative protein source. Demand for poultry products outpaces supply, driving up prices beyond the reach of many lower-income consumers. The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Cairo estimates the impact of the poultry ban on trade at approximately USD 100 million.
Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation’s Decree 448 (Mar. 19, 2012) banned the import of heat-treated feather meal from all origins. Egypt cites contamination and nutritional value concerns as a justification for the ban. Although Egypt has notified the WTO, its notification omits references to it having similar concerns with its own domestic feather meal production. This ban is not science-based, contradicts OIE findings, and fails to meet Egypt’s WTO obligations. The OIE provides recommendations for feather and poultry meals imports based on heat treatment. The OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code (Chapter 10.4 on Avian Influenza, Article 24) recognizes that feather meal treated at sufficiently high temperatures ensures the elimination of the AI virus and other potential contaminants.
At present, Egypt imports seed potatoes exclusively from the EU, primarily the Netherlands and the UK. For five years, Egyptian and U.S. quarantine officials have worked on a bilateral market access package: concurrent market access for Egyptian oranges and tangerines to the United States and U.S. seed potatoes to Egypt. The U.S. has finalized its risk assessment for Egyptian citrus, and in February 2015 Egypt approved certified seed potato imports from the state of California, leaving 15 other U.S. states yet to be approved. The intent is to have market access requirements for seed potatoes finalized by 2017.
Before 2017, Egypt applied zero tolerance for ambrosia weed seeds in soybean imports. In November 2016, the Government of Egypt (GOE) restructured its import procedures by issuing Prime Ministerial Decree No 2992 of 2016. The decree eliminated the zero-tolerance policy and allows maximum residue levels of up to 50 ppm (9-10 seeds per kilogram sample). The United States is challenging this regulation, requesting Egypt to accept processing as a means of mitigation for ambrosia weed seeds, which would negate the need for an MRL for ambrosia weed seeds. All soybean imports are used in processing for soybean oils and meals. The processing at the crushing facilities, which include sieving and heating, are sufficient to destroy any foreign materials, including ambrosia. The same practice is applied by most soybean importers around the world, including the EU. The EU accepts the processing done at a crushing facility as an acceptable mitigation practice.
The decree also declared the General Organization for Export and Import Control (GOEIC) as the lead authority for imported grain and soybeans inspections. The Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Decree No 24 of 2017 established the operational guidelines for the implementation of the aforementioned prime ministerial decree. Under the new rules, GOEIC became the sole government entity responsible for wheat, corn and soybean inspections at shipping origins and arrivals. For inspections at origin, GOEIC replaced the government’s team of six inspectors, instead contracting the service to qualified international inspection companies.
Upon arrival, shipments are inspected by GOEIC’s inspection teams. Importers must submit an import permit application to GOEIC, indicating the shipment's country of origin and the amount being imported. Approvals are to be issued within two working days of submission. Traders are optimistic about Egypt’s new inspection system. The new process streamlines import regulation because instead of having to deal with up to three governmental bodies, at times at odds with each other, importers now need to engage with only one. The new system should result in lower costs, which will end up benefiting consumers.
Medical Equipment and Supplies
The Ministry of Health (MoHP) prohibits the importation of used and refurbished medical equipment and supplies to Egypt. The ban does not differentiate between the most complex computer-based imaging equipment and the most basic of supplies. At present, even new medical equipment must be tested in the country of origin and proven safe before it will be approved for importation into Egypt. The importer must submit a form requesting the MoHP’s approval to import medical equipment. The importer will also provide a certificate issued by official health authorities in the country of origin, indicating that the medical equipment, subject to importation, is safely used there.
The importer must also present an original certificate from the manufacturer indicating the production year of the equipment, and that the equipment is new. In addition, the importer must present a certificate of approval from the FDA or the European Bureau of Standards. The importer must prove it has a service center to provide after sales support for the imported medical equipment, including spare parts and technical maintenance. The MoHP’s technical committee examines and reviews the technical specifications of the equipment before granting approval for import. These regulations also apply to donated medical equipment.
Pharmaceuticals and Nutritional Supplements
The Egyptian Ministry of Health prohibits the importation of natural products, vitamins and food supplements in their finished form. However, the Ministry of Health is currently looking at changing the multivitamins decree; this could lead to approved import of some multivitamin formulations into Egypt.
These items may be marketed in Egypt only through local manufacture under license, or by sending ingredients and premixes to a local pharmaceutical firm to be prepared and packed in accordance with Ministry of Health specifications. Only local factories are allowed to produce food supplements, and to import raw materials used in the manufacturing process.
In January 2017, the Egyptian parliament established the National Food Safety Authority (NFSA). Effective January 2018, the NFSA will assume the responsibilities for food safety currently held by as many as 40 government entities answering to multiple ministries.
The Nutrition Institute and the Drug Planning and Policy Center of the Ministry of Health register and approve all nutritional supplements and dietary foods. Approval takes from four months to one year. Importers must apply for a license for dietary products. The validity period of the license varies from one to five years, depending on the product. After the license expiration date, the importer must submit a new request for license renewal. License renewal costs about 3,000 EGP (USD 166). However, if a similar local dietary product is available in the market, registration for an imported product will not be approved.
Egypt Trade Development and Promotion Foreign Trade Regulations