Two boys holding sugar canes during harvest season in Upper Egypt in 2013 (Photo: Bassem Abo Al Abass)
Egypt has imposed a temporary 20 percent tariff on CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight) of sugar imports pending a government probe into industry losses, Minister of Foreign Trade and Industry Mounir Fakhry was quoted as saying Sunday by the state news agency MENA.
The move is part of a probe by the government into an "unjustified" increase in imports of sugar, in order to protect the local industry from dumping, added Fakhry.
The significant rise, the amount of which was not specified by Fakhry, follows a drop in international sugar prices, affecting the Egyptian market in 2014 and the first quarter of 2015, MENA reported the minister as saying.
The tariff is set for a maximum of 200 days pending the results of the government investigation, with a minimum fee of LE700 per ton.
Egypt consumes around 3.2 million tonnes of sugar annually but produces just over 2 million tonnes leaving a gap of slightly over a million tonnes a year for imports.
The North African country, which depends on the Nile for almost all its water, is trying to expand sugar beet planting to fulfil its sugar needs as it consumes less water than cane.
Beet is mostly grown in the Nile Delta region while cane is grown in southern Egypt.
Several private sugar plants have set up shop to process beet sugar in the past years including Nile Sugar and Al Nouran sugar.