Government plans to force Egyptian shipping agencies to use local currency

The Egyptian government is considering obliging local shipping agencies operating in Egyptian ports to accept payment of handling charges for local containers in Egyptian pounds and to stop trading in foreign currencies.

This came after the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC) submitted an urgent note to Finance Minister Mohamed Maait.

Maait confirmed in an official note to respond to FEDCOC’s request that the CEO of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones, Mohamed Abdel-Wahab, has been tasked with studying the feasibility of ensuring that shipping agencies in Egypt deal with the Egyptian pound collecting whatever is needed. fees instead of using foreign currencies.

The memo also insists on extending the working hours of visa, collection and exchange employees in the Chinese arena until seven o’clock in the evening, according to the dates of the joint examination commissions, and on reducing customs clearance time.

FEDCOC also requested in a letter to the Minister of Finance to stop trading in US dollars for transactions that take place on Egyptian lands to reduce the burden and demand for foreign currencies.

The union said companies bear additional burdens resulting from demurrage charges that are paid in US dollars to shipping companies, as foreign shipping agencies and container handling companies require importers to pay the required fees in US dollars to the instead of the Egyptian pound.

Maait pointed out that requiring importers to pay trading fees in US dollars and not in Egyptian pounds is unacceptable as long as shipping agencies in Egypt provide their services in Egyptian territory.

Adviser to the Minister of Finance in charge of customs affairs, Magdy Abdel-Aziz, indicated that the objective of the measure is to reduce pressure on importing companies, in particular with the high fines for delays required in the event of late release of containers, which can reach 160 US dollars per person. container per day.

Any transaction inside Egyptian territories must be done in the local currency, he explained, calling on the Ministry of Transport to intervene in this file and to oblige all companies to agree to negotiate in Egyptian pounds, to especially since it is the authority responsible for issuing licenses and permits for shipping companies and agencies in Egyptian ports.

The publication of such a decision will certainly reduce the pressure on foreign currencies, he said.

And the secretary of FEDCOC’s Transport and Logistics Division, Amr al-Samdouni, said that shipping companies receive most of their expenses in US dollars, while the country suffers from a serious shortage of its resources. in dollars due to the declining performance of its main sources – which are exports, tourism and foreign investment, in addition to the currently high price of the US dollar.

He added that shipping agencies in Egypt have given themselves the right to collect unloading proceeds in US dollars on the pretext that they deal with foreign container stations, and these stations also charge them in dollars.

Samdouni said importers are suffering in order to manage hard currency to pay for the value of imported goods, given the reluctance of banks to supply them, and paying fees in dollars increases the burden on importers and increases the price of goods. imported goods. commodity on the consumer.

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