Egypt - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Barriers

Includes the barriers (tariff and non-tariff) that U.S. companies face when exporting to this country.

Last published date: 2020-09-15

Non-Tariff Trade Barriers

The Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade issued a decree (43/2016) on Jan 16, 2016, requiring foreign manufacturers of specific products to register for export with the Egyptian General Organization for Export and Import Control (GOEIC). Listed products will only be allowed entry into the Egyptian market if they are registered by the owner of the manufacturing facility or the legal holder of the trademark in advance. This list was expanded by Decree 44, issued on January 15, 2019.

Products for which registration is required:

  • Fruit, dried, other than that of headings 0801 to 0806; mixtures of nuts or dried fruits of this chapter (HS Code: 0813)
  • Peel of citrus fruit or melons (including watermelons), fresh, frozen, dried or provisionally preserved in brine, in sulphur water or in other preservative solutions (HS Code: 0814)
  • Animal or vegetable fats and oils and their cleavage products; prepared edible fats; animal or vegetable waxes (HS Code: 15)
  • Sugars and sugar confectionery (HS Code: 17)
  • Chocolate and other food preparations containing cocoa (HS Code: 1806)
  • Preparations of cereals, flour, starch or milk; pastrycooks’ products (HS Code: 19)
  • Fruit juices (including grapes) and vegetable juices, unfermented and not containing added spirit, whether or not containing added sugar or other sweetening matter (HS Code: 2009)
  • Waters, including natural or artificial mineral waters and aerated waters, not containing added sugar or other sweetening matter nor flavoured; ice and snow (HS Code: 2201)
  • Waters, including mineral waters and aerated waters, containing added sugar or other sweetening matter or flavoured, and other non-alcoholic beverages, not including fruit or vegetable juices under heading 2009 (HS Code: 2202)
  • Essential oils and resinoids; perfumery, cosmetic or toilet preparations (HS Code: 33)
  • Soap, organic surface-active agents, washing preparations, lubricating preparations, artificial waxes, prepared waxes, polishing or scouring preparations, candles and similar articles, modelling pastes, dental waxes and dental preparations with a basis of plaster (HS Code: 34)
  • Baths, shower-baths, sinks, washbasins, bidets, lavatory pans, seats and covers, flushing cisterns and similar sanitary ware, of plastics (HS Code: 3922)
  • Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and hygienic or toilet articles, of plastics (HS Code: 924)
  • Tableware and kitchenware, of wood (HS Code: 419)
  • Toilet or facial tissue stock, towel or napkin stock and similar paper of a kind used for household or sanitary purposes, cellulose wadding and webs of cellulose fibres, whether or not creped, crinkled, embossed, perforated, surface-coloured, surface-decorated or printed, in rolls or sheets  (HS Code: 803)
  • Carpets and other textile floor coverings (HS Code: 57)
  • Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted (HS Code: 61)
  • Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, not knitted or crocheted (HS Code: 62)
  • Ceramic sinks, washbasins, washbasin pedestals, baths, bidets, water closet pans, flushing cisterns, urinals and similar sanitary fixtures (HS Code: 6910)
  • Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and toilet articles, of porcelain or china (HS Code: 6911)
  • Ceramic tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and toilet articles, other than of porcelain or china (HS Code: 6912)
  • Glassware of a kind used for table, kitchen, toilet, office, indoor decoration or similar purposes (other than that under heading 7010 or 7018). (HS Code: 7013)
  • Table, kitchen or other household articles and parts thereof, of iron or steel; iron or steel wool; pot scourers and scouring or polishing pads, gloves and the like, of iron or steel (HS Code: 7323)
  • Table, kitchen or other household articles and parts thereof, of copper; pot scourers and scouring or polishing pads, gloves and the like, of copper; sanitary ware and parts thereof, of copper (HS Code: 7418)
  • Table, kitchen or other household articles and parts thereof, of aluminium; pot scourers and scouring or polishing pads, gloves and the like, of aluminium; sanitary ware and parts thereof, of aluminium (HS Code: 7615)
  • Spoons, forks, ladles, skimmers, cake-servers, fish-knives, butter-knives, sugar tongs and similar kitchen or tableware (HS Code: 8215)
  • Filing cabinets, card-index cabinets, paper trays, paper rests, pen trays, office-stamp stands and similar office or desk equipment, of base metal, other than office furniture under heading 9403. (HS Code: 8304)
  • Fittings for loose-leaf binders or files, letter clips, letter corners, paper clips, indexing tags and similar office articles, of base metal; staples in strips (for example, for offices, upholstery, packaging), of base metal. (HS Code: 8305)
  • Electromechanical domestic appliances, with self-contained electric motor, other than vacuum cleaners under heading 8508. (HS Code: 8509)
  • Electric instantaneous or storage water heaters and immersion heaters; electric space-heating apparatus and soil-heating apparatus; electrothermic hairdressing apparatus (for example, hairdryers, hair curlers, curling tong heaters) and hand dryers; electric smoothing irons; other electrothermic appliances of a kind used for domestic purposes; electric heating resistors, other than those under heading 8545. (HS Code: 8516)
  • Motorcycles (including mopeds) and cycles fitted with an auxiliary motor, with or without side-cars; side-cars. (HS Code: 8711)
  • Bicycles and other cycles (including delivery tricycles), not motorised. (HS Code: 8712)
  • Wristwatches, pocket-watches and other watches, including stopwatches, with case of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal. (HS Code: 9101)
  • Wristwatches, pocket-watches and other watches, including stopwatches, other than those under heading 9101. (HS Code: 9102)
  • Other furniture and parts thereof. (HS Code: 9403)
  • Lamps and lighting fittings including searchlights and spotlights and parts thereof, not elsewhere specified or included; illuminated signs, illuminated nameplates and the like, having a permanently fixed light source, and parts thereof not elsewhere specified or included. (HS Code: 9405)
  • Toys, games and sports requisites; parts and accessories thereof. (HS Code: 95)
  • Miscellaneous manufactured articles. (HS Code: 96)

The product manufacturer, trademark owner or its legal representative may submit the application for registration in person or pre-check it online (GOEIC). U.S. exporters are encouraged to apply in person, through a local representative, if necessary, to ensure proper submission of the required documentation. All documents submitted must be certified by the chamber of commerce at the location of issuance, legalized/notarized by the Egyptian embassy in the country of origin and translated into Arabic.

In addition to the application form, the following documentation is required.

For Factories:

  • Registration form
  • Certificate of the legal status and the license of the factory
  • List of the manufacturer’s products and its trademarks
  • The trademark of the product and any licensed trademarks by the trademark owner
  • A certificate to prove that the factory has a quality control system, issued by a body recognized by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) or International Accreditation Forum (IAF) or from an Egyptian or foreign governmental entity approved by the Ministry of Foreign Trade

For Trademark Owners:

  • Registration form
  • A certificate to prove registration of the trademark and a list of products manufactured under this trademark
  • A certificate from the trademark owner listing the distribution centers that are authorized to distribute products with this trademarkA certificate to prove that the trademark owner has a quality-control system, issued by an entity recognized by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) or International Accreditation Forum (IAF) or from an Egyptian or foreign governmental entity approved by the Ministry of Foreign Trade.

U.S. exporters must comply with all Egyptian laws and regulations to ensure customs clearance. Documents must be legalized at the local chamber of commerce, the U.S. Department of State, and the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, D.C. or consulates in other locations. For more information on documentation and registration to comply with the decree please contact: Office.Cairo@trade.gov

Useful Links:

For more information and help with trade barriers please contact:

International Trade Administration, Enforcement and Compliance, ECCommunications@trade.gov

Quality Certificate

Products’ registration requires a certificate to prove that the factory applies a quality system related to product quality, and this certificate shall be issued from a body recognized by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) or the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), provided that the certificate shall be issued in English. Although there is no specific certificate as such, ISO 9001 remains the preferred quality certificate to GOEIC.

Service Barriers

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) Commitments

GATS restricts foreign equity in construction and transport services to 49 percent. In the computer services sector, larger contributions of foreign equity may be permitted, such as when the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology determines that such services are an integral part of a larger business model and will benefit the country. Egypt prohibits companies from employing non-nationals for more than 10 percent of their workforce. Yet, according to the Investment Law, companies established in any of the free zones can employ foreign employees whose number does not exceed 25% of the employees in a company. Limitations on foreign management also apply to computer-related services (60 percent of top-level management must be Egyptian after three years from the start-up date of the venture). A prohibition on the acquisition of land by foreigners for commercial purposes was amended in 2002 to allow such acquisition under certain circumstances.

Courier and Express Delivery Services

Private courier and express delivery service suppliers seeking to operate in Egypt must receive special authorization from the Egyptian National Postal Organization (ENPO). In addition, although express delivery services constitute a separate for-profit, premium delivery market, private express operators are required to pay ENPO a “postal agency fee” of 10 percent of annual revenue from shipments under 20 kilograms. In 2010, ENPO requested private courier and express delivery services to pay a fee of EGP 5 (USD 0.83) on each imported consignment under 20 kilograms. 

Civil Aviation Decree 607/2015 requires all courier and express delivery services to have at least 51% Egyptian ownership. Currently U.S. and European courier services operate in Egypt.

Transportation

The GOE liberalized maritime and air transportation services in 1998. Since then, the Egyptian private sector has been conducting most maritime cargo activities, such as loading, supplying, ship repairs and container handling. Ninety percent of Egyptian trade moves through seaports. Egypt has 48 ports: 15 are commercial ports and 33 specialized ports.

Total number of seaports on the Red Sea: 33 ports: 9 commercial, 24 specialized.

Total number of seaports on the Mediterranean: 15 ports: 6 commercial, 9 specialized.

Total storage space is 6.5 million m3.

Average total vessels calling annually at Egyptian seaports is approximately 14,000 vessels.

Recent renovations and improvements of the Port of Alexandria include: construction of deeper quays to receive larger vessels; redesign of storage areas, warehouses, and associated infrastructure; installation of new fiber optic cables for data transmission; installation of a more automated cargo management system; and renovation of the passenger cruise ship terminal. While these renovations have resulted in a smoother flow of goods and services, the average time from arrival of a consignment to final release takes eight to nine days, including clearances by Customs and other agencies.

Other Service Barriers

  • Foreign motion pictures are subject to a screen quota, and distributors may import only five prints of any foreign film.
  • According to Egyptian labor law, foreigners cannot be employed as export and import customs clearance officers, or as tourist guides.

Investment Barriers

  • Under the 1986 United States-Egypt Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), Egypt is committed to maintaining an open investment regime. The BIT requires Egypt to accord national and Most-Favored Nation (MFN) treatment (with certain exceptions) to U.S. investors, to allow investors to make financial transfers freely and promptly, and to adhere to international standards for expropriation and compensation. The BIT also provides outlines for binding international arbitration of certain disputes.  Despite these assurances, in recent years U.S. pharmaceutical investors were repeatedly prevented from repatriating profits earned in Egypt.
  • Based on a review of Egypt’s investment policies, the OECD invited Egypt to join the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises. Egypt signed the Declaration in 2007, becoming the first Arab and first African country to join. During this process, Egypt agreed to review the restrictions on investors identified in the OECD’s 2007 Investment Policy Review of Egypt, such as certain limits in the tourism sector.

According to the UN world investment report 2019, although foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to Egypt decreased by 8 per cent, Egypt remained the largest FDI recipient in Africa in 2018 (received $6.8 bn). Foreign investment in Egypt was skewed towards the oil and gas industry, as significant discoveries of offshore gas reserves attracted investments.

Other Bariers

Pharmaceutical Price Controls

In 2009, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) issued Decree 373 to replace Egypt’s “cost-plus” system of pharmaceutical pricing with a new “reference pricing” system that set the price of brand-name drugs in Egypt 10 percent lower than the lowest international sales price for the drug. The decree also sets a price ceiling for generic drugs at 60-70 percent of the amount of the brand-name drug, which is higher than the average sales price for generics in Egypt.

In 2012 the decree was replaced by new pricing decree 499 using the same referencing system, with an increase of the pharmacy and distribution margins deducted from the ex-factory prices.  The decree remains in force, though MoHP only enforces the reference pricing elements of the decree but has not implemented pricing adjustments based on exchange rate fluctuations. Pharmaceutical companies have also not implemented the pharmacy or dealer compensation elements of the decree except for the products that enjoyed a price increase. Pharmaceutical companies are engaged with MoHP and seeking the revision of certain “reference pricing” elements of Decree 499.

Sanitary/Phytosanitary Standards

Egypt has a complex array of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and quality standards regulating its food imports.  Inspection and testing procedures are often non-transparent.  Its SPS and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) measures are frequently not in compliance with Egypt’s WTO obligations and impede market access. U.S. poultry parts and offal, beef and beef products, wheat, soybeans, seed potatoes, and feather meal exports are impacted.

Anticompetitive Practices

Under Egyptian competition law, a company holding 25 percent or more market share of a given sector may be subject to investigation if suspected of illegal or unfair market practices.  The law is implemented by the Egyptian Competition Authority, which reports to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. However, the law does not apply to utilities and infrastructure projects, which are regulated by other governmental entities.

In 2008, Law 3 of 2005 on Protection of Competition and Prohibition of Monopolistic Practices was amended and passed by the People’s Assembly under Law 190 of 2008. The amendment sets the minimum fine for monopolistic business practices at EGP 100,000 (USD 5,500 and the maximum at EGP 300 million (USD 16 million). It also provides for doubling the penalty in cases where violations are repeated. The first trial under both new laws involved a cement company, which was convicted in 2008 and fined EGP 200 million (USD 11 million), which was upheld on appeal.