Prohibited and Restricted Imports in Egypt

An Expert's View about Marketing Regulations in Egypt

Last updated: 23 Feb 2011

Egypt lifted its ban on apparel imports on January 1, 2002, replacing it with excessive specific rate duties. In January 2004, the Egyptian Government issued a decree replacing these specific-rate duties with ad valorem (percentage of value) tariffs consistent with Egypt's commitments to the WTO.


In 1998, Egypt issued a decree stipulating that passenger vehicles can only be imported during their year of manufacture, effectively banning the importation of second-hand cars. In 2000, the decree was amended adding one year after the year of production to the period during which passenger vehicles can be imported. In November of 2005 the Minister of Trade and Industry issued a decree lifting the regulation restricting the import of cars from the country of origin. Egyptian regulations allow foreign investors to import a 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 February 2005, Egypt lifted its ban on beef with a fat content greater than 7 percent. In March, 2005, it lifted its BSE ("mad cow disease") ban on U.S. beef imports, but only de-boned U.S. beef is allowed entry. U.S. live dairy cattle are allowed but feeder cattle are still banned. The ban on imports of live cows, meat and its products, from most European countries remains active. However, in September 2006, Egypt approved imports of live male slaughter beef from Moldova, Ukraine, Hungary and Romania. Most of the imported beef come from India, Brazil, New Zealand, and Australia.


Egypt continues to block imports of U.S. poultry products. The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) requires that officials be present to observe the slaughter process at U.S. plants to ensure Halal requirements are fulfilled. Beef liver comes from the USA, Brazil, and India. However, the U.S. imported quantities of beef liver are small and not meeting the local demand.


The Egyptian Ministry of Health prohibits the import of natural products, vitamins, and food supplements in their finished form. 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. Only local factories are allowed to produce food supplements, and to import raw materials used in the manufacturing process.


With the USAID assistance, the National Food Safety Management Unit (NFSMU) has been formed and started operation. The Ministry of Health, Agriculture, and Trade and Industry are represented in the NFSM. It is the equivalent of the U.S. FDA. The Egyptian Parliament will give final approval to this project in its new round that started in November 2009.


The Nutrition Institute and the Drug Planning and Policy Center of the Ministry of Health register and approve all nutritional supplements and dietary foods. It takes from four months to one year for approval. Importers must apply for a license for dietary products. The validity period of the license varies from 1 to 5 years depending on the product. After the expiration date of the license, the importer must submit a new request for license renewal. License renewal costs about $500. However, if a similar local dietary product is available in the market, registration for an imported product will not be approved.


The Ministry of Health (MOH) banned 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 MOH’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. 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 MOH’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.


In 2009, a ministerial decree was issued to cancel the obligation of pharmaceutical companies to obtain prior approval of the Minister of Health, in case of transferring the pharmaceutical preparation registered by a license from a foreign company to the other.




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Posted: 09 June 2010, last updated 23 February 2011

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