Egyptian importers call for expanding food export bans amid price increases

Muhammed Khalid , Sunday 1 Oct 2023

As Egypt’s three-month ban on onion exports comes into effect on Sunday, importers have asked for stronger measures to control prices, including expanding the ban to other items and cracking down on hoarding.

Egyptian onion.
Egyptian onion. Btrade.


The decision was supposed to take effect last week but was postponed to honour previously arranged export agreements.

“The decision is good for the market and should be applied to other goods like tomatoes, potatoes, and beans to control prices that skyrocketed,” Ahmed Sheha, a member of the importer's division at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce, told Ahram Online.

However, he also warned that some vendors may circumvent the ban illicitly.

“However, there is still a risk as some vendors may hoard stockpiles of onions to be released at high prices after the end of the ban. Therefore, the government should consider extending the ban’s term and crack down on any unethical practices in the market,” Sheha added.

In September, onion prices in Egypt surged to EGP 35 ($1.13) per kilogram in some local markets, up 106 percent from EGP 17 ($0.55) the previous month and more than 1,328 percent from EGP 2.45 ($0.079) a year ago.

Onions have traditionally been one of the most affordable vegetables in the country and are a staple in Egyptian cuisine.

According to the official statistics authority CAPMAS, Egypt’s onion exports surged by 95.9 percent to reach $129.3 million during the first six months of 2023, up from $66 million in the same period a year earlier.

In August, food and beverage prices in Egypt recorded a monthly inflation rate of 2.2 percent. However, the price of vegetables rose even faster, increasing 24.4 percent in August, up from 5.5 percent the previous month.

Year-on-year, food and beverage prices soared 71.9 percent. Housing and restaurant services have also inflated by 49.5 percent annually.

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