Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Port Said is to gradually lose its free trade zone status, under a new law passed in parliament this week. Import quotas and tax-free purchases will thus be eliminated over a five-year transitional period.
The Egyptian government took the step as part of efforts to comply with World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements. Under WTO agreements, Egyptian authorities were also obliged to remove a long-standing ban on imports of ready-to-wear clothes.
In a bid to offset the lifting of the ban and protect local industry, the government increased tariffs on garment imports. Men’s wear items were slapped with a 1,000 Egyptian pound ($222) tax and women garments with a EP1,400 ($311) tax.
The move resulted in violent protest rallies, held by Port Said textile merchants whose businesses have been hurt by the government’s decision. Riot police arrested 14 people, charged with causing disturbances. Rioters burned down signs hung in the city plaza and hurled stones at the Chamber of Commerce, until riot squads managed to reinstate control. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )