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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Is Egypt in the midst of its own little trade war with Sudan?

Is Egypt in the midst of its own little trade war with Sudan? The rhetoric from the Egyptian government would imply that, at the very least, there is major discord between the two due to what it claims is Sudan’s “stringent restrictions” and “violations of regional trade agreements.” Yesterday, the head of the Trade and Industry Ministry’s foreign trade office Sa’ad Abdullah denounced Sudan’s alleged violations of the COMESA free trade agreements signed by the two countries. Back in June, Sudan revoked customs tariff exemptions provided by COMESA for a number of goods imported from Egypt, including ceramics. Last Friday, the government urged Sudan to lift all restrictions on Egyptian agricultural goods imposed last September when a number of countries boycotted Egypt’s goods following the hepatitis A strawberry scare, Sudan Tribune reports. The statements came following a meeting between the foreign ministers of both countries at the AU summit.

The tussle is impacting businesses, including La Vache Qui Rit distributor Bel Egypt, which exports to Sudan. The 40% tariffs the company pays to export to Khartoum, coupled with the float has made it unfeasible to export there, said a company executive.

Egypt’s recourse? According to Abdullah, there is none, Al Mal reports. Sudan is a supplier of key strategic goods to Egypt. Not to mention its importance over Nile water rights and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam issue. Egypt will have to play nice with Sudan and attempt to reach a diplomatic solution.

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