Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

EU protests to WTO against arbitrary import registration system in Egypt

Written by Eric Apim on Thursday, January 27th 2022 à 11:15 | Read 263 times

If the dispute cannot be settled amicably, a WTO panel will decide (photo: WTO)
If the dispute cannot be settled amicably, a WTO panel will decide (photo: WTO)
EU / EGYPT. The European Commission decided on Wednesday 26 January 2022 to refer the matter to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to protest against the compulsory import registration system applied by Egypt. It was introduced in 2016 for foreign factories and companies by the Egyptian government to limit imports deemed non-essential. The system covers twenty-nine categories of goods in the sectors of agricultural and food products, cosmetics, toys, textiles, clothing, household appliances, furniture and ceramic tiles.

In a statement, the EU criticises this pre-registration process as "arbitrary" and "can take years". It also says that "these requirements violate WTO rules as they impose restrictions on the import of a wide range of goods".

The European Commission points out that "the Egyptian authorities have failed to process the requests of many European companies for long periods of time, despite numerous interventions by the affected companies and the EU". In a statement, EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis stresses that "these import restrictions are illegal under WTO rules and we regret that Egypt has not taken action to remove them, despite our repeated requests and efforts to resolve this problem."

Imports concerned have fallen by 40%

In its statement, the European Commission deplores that "compulsory registration and related delays in the processing of applications constitute import restrictions and, as such, are incompatible with the WTO Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1994), on Agriculture and on Import Licensing Procedures."

It claims that imports of the 29 product categories covered by the system have fallen by 40% since its introduction. "The EU is now defending its exporters whose access to the Egyptian market is subject to unjustified restrictions," commented the European Commissioner. 

This challenge before the WTO, which is based in Geneva, will lead to a formal phase of consultations between the two parties. If the dispute cannot be resolved amicably, the European Commission may ask the WTO to set up a panel to settle the matter.

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