Following a protest by hundreds of small-scale importers, a representative delegation of the importers reached an agreement with the head of the Foreign Trade Agreements Sector at the Ministry of Industry, Saeed Abdallah, ending the demonstration.
The agreement stipulates the release of goods held in ports that were shipped before 15 March without a prior examination certificate. They agreed to circulate a notice of the decision on Wednesday in all Egyptian ports.
Hundreds of small-scale importers demonstrated Tuesday in front of the Egyptian International Trade Point (EITP) at the Finance Ministry building in protest against decisions restricting imports by Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Tarek Qabil.
The importers appealed to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi regarding the Ministry of Industry’s decisions, especially regarding Abdallah’s stance in relation to the decision, whereby they had alleged that he works for the benefit of some monopolists in the local market.
They called on the president to intervene to save more than 850,000 importers after the issuance of the decisions restricting imports.
The importers repeated several slogans during their demonstration, including: “No to monopoly”, “Down with Saeed Abdullah”, “Save us Mr President”, “Don’t let us go bankrupt”, “No to displacement”, and “No to corruption after the revolution”.
They pointed out that some countries object to inspecting them, which is considered interference in the sovereignty of other countries.
“The decision will cause damage to all 20m workers in trade sector, and it will increase smuggling, creating a monopolistic market,” said the importers. “In addition, the decisions threaten the disappearance of some goods from the market, and will raise prices, as non-domestic brands aren’t affordable for low-income earners.”
They added that the minister of industry’s decision is contrary to all international conventions such as GATT and bilateral agreements signed by Egypt, and will lead to the closure of companies that operate in the field of import.
Head of the Importers Division of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce Hamdy El Naggar said that the division has no relation to the demonstrators, claiming that they are not importers but junior traders and as such they do not represent the division.
El Naggar added that the division is dealing with importers’ issues in civilised manner, through dialogue with government agencies.
El Naggar noted that his division submitted some proposals to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and demanded that the Ministry of Industry delay the execution of these decisions as the importers are not prepared for these changes.
“The ministry is studying our request,” El Naggar said.