File Photo: Egypt's Finance Minister Amr El-Garhy
Minister of Finance Amr El-Garhy and Minister of Trade and Industry Tareq Kabil said on Sunday that the recent decision to raise tariffs on a number of luxury goods aims to support local industry and reduce imports.
Last week, Egypt raised tariffs on 320 different luxury goods, including some fruits, cosmetics, stationary and electronic gadgets, between 40 and 60 percent.
The increase was the second such hike in taxes on imported luxuries this year.
The two ministers said in a joint statement that the rise in the rate of imports during recent years had put a huge burden on the nation's economy, leading to a $49 billion deficit in the public budget.
This situation required critical decisions to limit imports and support local industry in a way that preserves Egypt's international trade agreements, according to the statement.
The ministers said that the recent decision is expected to raise annual tax revenues by EGP 6 billion.
The ministers added that imported goods from parties that have free trade agreements with Egypt such as the EU, the COMESA African grouping, the Arab region and Turkey would not by affected by the new decision.
The increase became effective by a presidential decree published in the official gazette on Thursday.
The new taxes levied include fruits such as avocados, pineapple, guavas, mangoes, and oranges; other foods affected include cocoa powder, biscuits and ice cream. Some hair products, deodorants and facial masks are also included, as well as pens and pencils.
In January, the same items were subject to a 30-40 percent tariff increase.
In 2014, Egypt embarked on a plan to introduce a number of fiscal reforms, including fuel subsidy cuts.
Earlier this month, Egypt's central bank decided to freely float the pound and raise key interest rates as part of a set of reforms aimed at alleviating a dollar shortage and stabilising the country's flagging economy.
Since 2014, the government has reduced subsidies on fuel, water and electricty, and imposed new taxes to ease a growing budget deficit.
The Egyptian government is planning a second phase of economic reforms, Al-Ahram Arabic website reported earlier this week, which will include imposing progressive taxation and a further cut in subsides.