CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s Trade Ministry on Thursday imposed a tariff on the exports of fresh and frozen fish of 12,000 Egyptian pounds per tonne for four months.
The decision comes two days after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Egypt had halted fish exports after a surge in sales to foreign markets following last November’s currency devaluation led to supply shortages locally and a rise in domestic prices.
Sisi did not say how long the suspension would last but promised Egyptians, who have seen their purchasing power sharply eroded by the devaluation, that measures would be enforced to help the market adjust prices lower.
The statement said the tariffs will be put in place once the decision is published in the official gazette.
“This decision comes within the framework of the ministry’s keenness to provide fish for the needs of the local market especially in light of the increase in fish exports over the past period...which led to price increases,” Trade Minister Tarek Kabil said in the statement.
Egypt used to export 40,000 tonnes of fish a year but within the first thee months of the year the number jumped to 120,000 tonnes, Sisi had in remarks at a youth conference on Tuesday.
The ministry gave different figures for fish exports in their statement, saying Egypt exported 48,000 tonnes of fish in 2016 and in the first quarter of 2017 it exported 14,000 tonnes.
Much of Egypt’s fish exports heads to the Gulf states.
Egypt abandoned its peg of 8.8 pounds per dollar on Nov.3 and the currency now trades at about 18 per greenback. The plunge in the pound has driven inflation to more than 30 percent, stoking public pressure on Sisi to revive the ailing economy, tame prices and create jobs.
The tariff’s on the fish exports comes after the government this month imposed a tariff on sugar exports of 3,000 Egyptian pounds per tonne.
Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Angus MacSwan