Egypt - Country Commercial Guide
Prohibited & Restricted Imports
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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 one 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. 

Electric & Hybrid vehicles. According to presidential Decree 419 of 2018, fee exemptions are applied only to electrically operated vehicles; whereas discounts in tariff category for natural gas-operated vehicles have increased to 35% up from 25%. Furthermore, although imports of used vehicles are not allowed according to general rules, an exception has been made to promote the use of environment-friendly cars in Egypt.

Starting Jan 2019, Egypt’s customs authorities began applying the last tranche of tariff reductions on cars from the European Union and Turkey, in accordance with the Egyptian-European Partnership Agreement to reach customs zero value. Cars will be subject to other types of duties, namely VAT of 14 percent, 0.5 percent industrial and commercial profit tax, 3 percent resources development fee, and 1 percent table tax for 18.5 percent.

Beef and Beef Products

In 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, including ractopamine) 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 conformity with Codex maximum residue levels (MRL), residues of synthetic hormones in beef present a health risk for consumers.  Despite these measures, U.S. exports of beef and beef products in 2019 continued to grow and reached $76 million, up 15 percent from 2018’s exports of $66 million. U.S. dairy product exports also increased to $45 million, up 47.5 percent from 2018’s exports of $30.5 million. 

On January 5, 2020, the Government of Egypt issued Prime Ministerial Decree No. 35/2020, establishing a new state entity in the form of a joint-stock company integrated by the Ministries of Islamic Affairs, Agriculture and Land Reclamation, and the General Organization for Export and Import Control (an agency of the Ministry of Trade and Industry).  This joint-stock company ISEG HALAL, is the sole official Egyptian entity responsible for granting halal certification.

On April 11, 2020, Egypt’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) issued Decree No. 209/2020. The decree extends the shelf-life validity period for imported frozen fish from six- to nine-months and of frozen beef liver from seven- to 10-months. The decree was published in Egypt’s official gazette (Al-Wakaye Al-Mesreya) on April 11, 2020. It entered into effect on the same day of its publication and is valid until December 31, 2020.

Poultry Parts

In 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. U.S. industry is most competitive in the production of poultry parts as opposed to whole birds. Despite the ban, Egypt’s General Organization for Veterinary Services (GOVS) has 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. 

Seed Potatoes

At present, Egypt imports seed potatoes exclusively from the EU, primarily the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. For several 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. Thus far, the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture has declined to issue import permits for U.S. seed potatoes from any states. Technical discussions between USDA and the Ministry of Agriculture are ongoing.

Soybean Meal – White Mold

Egypt maintains a zero-tolerance level for the presence of white mold; fungus responsible for producing sclerotinia stem rot in soybean plantations. Detection on soybean meal, a high-value intermediate product is a recurring problem; detection results in the shipment’s rejection at port and requires costly reshipment out of the country. White mold is commonly found in many countries including Egypt, but authorities consider it as a quarantine pest though there is no scientific evidence supporting this policy. A risk-based decision is needed to overcome this trade barrier. Imported soybeans (whole beans) that evidence the presence of white mold can nevertheless enter the country once the shipment is sieved, removing the presence of the white mold. Soybeans are deemed a strategic commodity and are exempted from the white mold zero-tolerance level.     

Medical Equipment and Supplies

The Ministry of Health and Population (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 or similar institutions in other jurisdictions. 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

In January 2017, the Egyptian parliament established the National Food Safety Authority (NFSA).  Effective January 2018, the NFSA assumed the responsibilities for food safety currently held by as many as 40 government entities answering to multiple ministries. The NFSA is now the one that reviews the registration of nutritional supplements. This is a step forward in opening the market for imported nutritional supplements as finished goods.

NFSA manages the importation of multivitamins and dietary supplements; 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.