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Algeria Bans Some Imports to Curb Trade Deficit

Algeria Bans Some Imports to Curb Trade DeficitAlgeria Bans Some Imports to Curb Trade Deficit

Algeria has temporarily banned the import of 900 products including cell phones, household appliances and vegetables in a bid to cut a ballooning import bill following a fall in energy earnings, according to an official document seen by Reuters.

The OPEC member has been trying to cut spending since crude oil prices started falling in mid-2014. It relies on oil and gas for 60% of the state budget but earnings from the sector have halved since oil prices collapsed.

The import ban, which took effect on Sunday, also applies to furniture, all vegetables except garlic, some meats and fruits, cheese, chocolates, pastries, pasta, juice, bottled waters and some building materials. It replaces an import license system introduced two years ago.

“The import suspension of those products is limited in time, and will be lifted gradually with or without maintaining or increasing taxes and other duties,” the document, drawn up by the trade ministry, said. The document’s authenticity was confirmed by an official.

The license system, whereby importers had to apply for a license to buy from overseas, had shown its limits, a senior official at the trade ministry said. Entrepreneurs had dismissed the rules as too bureaucratic, leading to supply problems as well as higher prices for some products.

The value of Algeria’s imports fell only 2.1% in the first 11 months of 2017 from a year earlier to $42.8 billion, according to official figures.

Under the new ban, the government hopes the import bill will fall to $30 billion this year from a projected $45 billion for all of 2017 and $46.7 billion the previous year.

 

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