Rationalizing and not restricting imports one of Egypt's highest priorities
Egypt, Economics, 12/10/2001
The government has reiterated this week that there are no plans for restricting imports, yet it is seeking to draw up a scheme on rationalizing them in a bid to stand up to the extraordinary conditions currently facing the Egyptian economy.
The scheme mainly depends on minimizing importing of nonessential goods as well as on those that have local alternatives.
The planned measures, aiming at using documentary collections as a way of financing imports did not aim at declining imports, Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) governor Mahmoud Abu El-Oyoun recently said referring to a decision slammed by the business community.
"The CBE can never restrict imports by any means," he added. Discussions are under way to adopt new facilities for importing spare parts and work will be maintained with documentary credits as long as the imported goods are shipped to Egypt before the first of December, the CBE chief noted.
To experts, rationalizing imports does not mean limiting the importation of intermediate commodities, which are necessary for domestic production.
"According to latest estimates, Egypt's imports hit $ 16.8billion, a matter that means providing 533,000 job opportunities in such sector," economic expert Mohsen Sadek said.
On the other hand, former Head of the businessmen branch of the Egyptian Trade Unions Federation Ahmed Arafah said," We have to take advantage of the 18th article of the GATT providing that the country has the right to take preemptive measures to protect its economy.
It is illogical to maintain imports of reinforced iron and cement, while such local sectors are suffering from stagnation," he added.
Thus, in spite of the controversy recently raised over the announced measures of import finance restrictions, it is obvious that the government mainly aims at reducing the outflow of foreign exchange from the country, which has seen its key hard currency revenue earners such as tourism, plunged since the September 11 attacks against the US.
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