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10/01/2018 - 20:26hs

Algeria suspends imports of over 850 items

The move is designed to address balance of payment issues. The top-selling products from Brazil are not included.

São Paulo – Algeria has temporarily stopped importing 851 items in 45 different categories. Algérie Press Service (APS) reported that the government is looking to address a balance of a payments deficit, since the oil price slump means revenue has dwindled.

The list of items whose imports are banned include dried fruit, cheese (finished products), fresh fruit (except bananas), fresh vegetables (except garlic), meat (except beef), tuna, maize by-products, meat preparations, chewing-gum, candies and chocolates, pasta, pastries, cereal by-products, canned vegetables, prepared or preserved tomatoes, jams, jellies, preserved fruits, food preparations, mineral waters, cement, detergents, finished and semi-finished plastic products, sanitary products, marble and granite, toilet paper, carpets, finished ceramics , ice-cream and glassware, combine harvesters, taps, wire, furniture, chandeliers, household appliances and mobile phones, APS said.

Although the move can mean trouble to some Brazilian exporters, the items that sell the most from Brazil to Algeria are not on the list, Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce CEO Michel Alaby explains. “We essentially sell sugar, vegetable oils, maize, meats and soy to Algeria,” the CEO said. Last year, sugar accounted for 74% of sales, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services.

According to Reuters, Algeria derives some 95% of its export revenues from oil and gas. Weak international oil prices, coupled with the fact that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opep) agreed to slash output by its member countries, stemmed the influx of revenue, leading to a current account deficit. Algeria’s government had been working to encourage domestic production, but now it has decided to severely restrict imports as welel.

“It is worth noting that Algeria is not a member of the WTO (the World Trade Organization); it is solely an observer country, therefore its government can engage in actions such as these as well as raise taxes,” said Alaby.

In addition to banning imports of 851 products, the government hiked taxes on 32 finished goods categories, including sunflower grain, plastic materials, kitchen ovens, water and beverage filters, mineral oil filtering devices, computer products, laptops and tablets, electric cabling, tractor and truck bodies, etc.

The government has also taken action at the domestic level, including setting a 30% tax on consumption of 10 finished goods categories: salmon, unshelled dried fruit and other dried fruits, spices, sweets, confectionery, extract and gasoline preparations (liquid and others), digital modems and decoders, fire warning devices, electrical warning appliances and computers.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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