FEATURE-Jams, red tape and graft obstruct business in Egypt
The shortening of port turnaround times did not sweep aside all the bureaucratic headaches for importers, who complain that labelling and testing requirements are still cumbersome.
"What we would hope for is to do is a risk assessment approach that would not necessarily test every single shipment," said Jalal Abu Gazaleh, founder of Gourmet Egypt, a food importer. "If you're in a business that does regular small shipments, the cost is very high."
Gazayerli said state agencies that test products should be merged to quicken the process and reduce the bribery that some company managers say is essential for business to run smoothly.
He said there are 17 state bodies that monitor and control the food industry, but a recent law is supposed to merge them into one authority.
"These types of legislative reforms will cut the bureaucracy and accordingly the corruption," he said.
Egypt's government set up a Transparency and Integrity Committee in 2007 to monitor corruption, find ways to tackle it and publicize the harm it does the economy and society.
Corruption has grown around the world in the past three years, but corruption watchdog Transparency International ranked Egypt 98th out of 178 countries last year in its global index of perceived levels of corruption, in which number one is the least corrupt, up from 115th out of 180 countries in 2008. Continued...