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Algeria Restricts Food, Industrial Imports in Move to Mitigate Economic Strain | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President Abdelaziz Bouteflika looks on during a swearing-in ceremony in Algiers April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

Algeria- Algeria’s government circulated a list of food and industrial imports that are banned, according to a letter delivered to national banks three days ago, reported Agence France-Presse.

Reducing imports is one among many other measures adopted to mitigate the economic strain caused by the drop in fuel revenues.

The document sent by the Professional Association of Banks and Financial Institutions was handed to executive directors heading banks—it included a list of 16 food items and eight industrial materials, the Ministry of Commerce decided to “suspend” as imports from the date on issuance.

A bank official, who spoke under anonymity, said the letter “stipulates that importing enlisted items is halted until further notice.”

The list names bread, all kinds of pastries, water, juices, mayonnaise and ketchup, chocolate, jams, jams and nuts.
As for industrial supplies prohibited there are bricks, marble, granite, faucets, rubies, materials made of plastic, furniture and chandeliers.

“The government has no other option but to cut back imports, especially after chaos taking over the sector with year 2014 registering imports worth over $60 billion” said economist Ismail Lalmas.

“But the government should look for other solutions such as raising taxes rather than banning the imports,” Lalmas said.

Commenting on the halt of imports the expert said that it goes against “foreign trade agreements signed by Algeria with countries and international organizations.”

As of summer 2014, the sharp drop in oil rates—which is the only source for hard currency in Algeria—plummeted to $ 28 billion, forcing the government to initiate counter measures to curb imports.

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune in March 2017, then minister of commerce, announced that “all imports must enter the country with an official license, in order to eliminate chaos compromising the market.”

The government’s policy on restricting imports, however, has registered positive feedback.

Imports have dropped from $ 66 billion in 2014, the beginning of the oil crisis, to $ 35 billion in 2016. The government aims to end the year 2017 with $ 30 billion going for imports.

Algeria has seen a decline in foreign exchange reserves to $ 108 billion from a previous $ 114 billion figure at the end of 2016 and $ 200 billion in 2014.