Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Amr Nassar, pledged before parliament’s industry committee that he would “fight” to reduce the cost of natural gas for paper and packaging factories.
He also promised to reduce the value-added tax (VAT) on these factories’ production inputs.
This came during a committee meeting chaired by MP Farag Amer on Sunday, which tackled the challenges facing Egypt’s paper industry. Additionally, the meeting also discussed setting a national strategy for paper production for educational textbooks, and the crises that the paper industry is exposed to in terms of high energy prices, taxes, customs, and the dumping of imported papers.
Egypt has previously reduced natural gas prices for industry. In October, the government lowered natural gas prices for a few sectors, namely, cement, metallurgy, and ceramics industries after repeated calls by manufacturers. The price for cement factories was slashed to $6 per million Beitish thermal units ($6/mmBtu), down from $8/mmBtu. While metallurgy and ceramic manufacturers saw their rates drop to $5.5 from $7.
However, the paper manufacturers who attended the meeting demanded that a 30% protective tariff be imposed on imported papers to protect the domestic industry, calling for limiting imports to paper used in printing newspapers only.
Nassar explained that imposing the protective tariffs, which the industry has been calling for, is difficult to implement, as it will go against free trade rules, and will be challenged in the World Trade Organization.
“However, there are other alternatives, that would be sustainable,” he stressed.
Nassar stressed that the political leadership and Prime Minister attaches great importance to the industry file, citing the recent initiative of the central bank to support faltering factories and the decisions of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to solve the problems for Egyptian exports.