Click here to read Rabobank's economic vision for this country. The information and publications in this tab are prepared and made available by third parties and are only available in English. No rights can be derived. Rabobank is not responsible or liable for the information and publications. Click here for the full disclaimer.

Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards


Foreign Trade in Figures

Trade represents 30% of the country's GDP (World Bank, 2017). The Egyptian market has been gradually opening up, especially since the country signed an agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 2006 and has been preparing a free trade treaty with the United States.

Egypt's primary export partners are the European Union, which represents more than a third of the total trade, and the United States. Both receive almost 60% of Egyptian exports. Egypt mainly exports fuel, oil, cotton, iron and steel. It imports mainly electronic and capital goods, nuclear reactors and boilers, cereals, food products and chemical products.

Structurally, the Egyptian economy has a trade deficit. The fluctuation of the exchange rate, in force since 2016, led to a devaluation of the national currency and enabled the liberalisation of the import regime. Consequently, non-hydrocarbon exports benefited from currency devaluation in 2017. As such, trade deficit narrowed considerably in 2017 (-25%) with non-oil exports rising from USD 20.4 billion in 2016 to USD 22.4 billion in 2017 (10% increase) and imports shrinking from USD 66.3 billion to USD 56.8 billion during the same period (-14%). This trend continued in early 2018 with exports increasing by 16% and imports falling by 4% in the first month of the year (Egyptian Ministry of Trade).

Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 69,20059,66271,28265,04455,789
Exports of Goods (million USD) 29,40928,49326,36719,05125,468
Imports of Services (million USD) 15,55714,80816,80016,65816,978
Exports of Services (million USD) 21,33617,88120,26218,15614,305
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -2.64.5-10.9-0.6-14.5
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 24.323.422.721.719.7
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 16.417.
Trade Balance (million USD) -25,516-22,384-30,962-31,025-29,624
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -20,200-20,531-26,574-29,954-32,351
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 40.740.436.934.830.0

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2017; World Bank - 2017


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
United Arab Emirates 10.6%
Italy 8.5%
Turkey 7.2%
Saudi Arabia 6.0%
United States 5.1%
United Kingdom 4.2%
India 3.4%
Spain 3.1%
China 2.6%
Lebanon 2.6%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 12.2%
Germany 6.8%
Italy 6.3%
Saudi Arabia 6.3%
United States 5.9%
Russia 5.4%
Brazil 4.1%
India 3.5%
Ukraine 3.5%
Turkey 3.1%

Source: Comtrade, 2017


Main Products

25.9 bn USD of products exported in 2017
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 9.4%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 8.1%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 8.1%
Mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilizers (excl. those in pellet or similar forms, or in packages with a gross weight of <= 10 kg) 3.8%
Insulated incl. enamelled or anodised wire, cable incl. coaxial cable and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors; optical fibre cables, made-up of individually sheathed fibres, whether or not assembled with electric conductors or fitted with connectors 3.0%
Citrus fruit, fresh or dried 2.4%
Television receivers, whether or not incorporating radio-broadcast receivers or sound or video recording or reproducing apparatus; video monitors and video projectors 2.1%
Polymers of ethylene, in primary forms 1.6%
Mixtures of odoriferous substances and mixtures, incl. alcoholic solutions, based on one or more of these substances, of a kind used as raw materials in industry; other preparations based on odoriferous substances, of a kind used for the manufacture of beverages 1.5%
Toilet paper and similar paper, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibres, of a kind used for household or sanitary purposes, in rolls of a width <= 36 cm, or cut to size or shape; handkerchiefs, cleansing tissues, towels, tablecloths, serviettes, napkins for babies, tampons, bed sheets and similar household, sanitary or hospital articles, articles of apparel and clothing accessories, of paper pulp, paper, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibres 1.4%
66.3 bn USD of products imported in 2017
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 8.4%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 5.3%
Wheat and meslin 4.0%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.0%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 2.6%
Maize or corn 2.6%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.5%
Articles of iron or steel, n.e.s. (excl. cast articles) 1.7%
Semi-finished products of iron or non-alloy steel 1.7%
Meat of bovine animals, frozen 1.6%

Source: Comtrade, 2017


Main Services

43.8 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Government services
Other business services
Computer and information services
Construction services
Financial services
Insurance services
Cultural and recreational services
35.0 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Other business services
Insurance services
Government services
Construction services
Computer and information services
Royalties and license fees
Cultural and recreational services
Financial services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data


Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Egyptian Pound (EGP)
Exchange Rate Regime
Floating exchange regime since November 2016 (previously, since 2011, there had been controls on the Egyptian pound). Companies operating in Egypt have faced difficulties repatriating profits, and there has been a lack of clarity regarding the rules for transferring currencies. Restrictions are placed on the transfer of funds out of Egypt for individuals, while extensive documentation is required for businesses. Dollar access is limited for importers and those not operating in priority sectors.
Level of Currency Instability
In November 2016, the Government moved to a floating exchange regime, thus devaluing the Egyptian pound by nearly 50%. This change is expected to increase volatility in the exchange rate, although the Central Bank announced that it place to 'maintain an orderly foreign exchange market and ensure price stability over the medium-term'.
Monetary Indicators 20132014201520162017
Egyptian Pound (EGP) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 6.877.087.6910.0317.78

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Main International Economic Cooperation
There is a cooperation agreement between Egypt and the European Union that has been in place since 2004. It allows industrial goods to enter duty free within Europe. A free trade agreement was signed with 4 countries of EFTA (European Free Trade Association) in 2007 and with Turkey in 2005. The agreement of Agadir between Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia entered in force since April 2007.

Egypt is part of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area(GAFTA), a pact of the Arab League entered into force in January 2005 which aims to form an Arabic free trade area. Egypt also belongs to the East African circle with the common market of eastern and southern Europe (COMESA) which could potentially lead to a customs union.

The country has also signed a trade agreement with 21 other countries in the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP).
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
Merchandise sent to Egypt has to be accompanied by the following documents:
- Single Administrative Document (SAD);
- A commercial invoice. It should be in 4 copies and in English;
- A certificate of origine, authenticated by the Egyptian consulate in the country of origine;
- A letter of credit;
- A phytosanitary certificate.  Required for fruits, vegetables, seeds, and other vegetation, and is issued by the Regional Vegetation Protection Service;
- A sanitary certificate.  Required for meats and is issued by the Departmental Management of Vetenary Services;
- The EUR1 form.  In order to benefit from the preferential tariff used on imports from the European Union;
- A radioactive non-contamination certificate. Required for food industry products;
- A dioxine non-contamination certificate.  Required for the import of some products;
- A free sales certificate for cosmetics, issued by the Federation of Perfume Industries;
- The transportation and packing list document.
Free Zones
Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ)
For Further Information
Website of the Egyptian customs office (under construction in English)
Official website of the European commission delegation in Egypt.
MFA Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
MOP Ministry of Economic Development.
Non Tariff Barriers
There is no licensing system, although importing some products requires the prior authorisation of the Treasury Department.
One of the difficult principles governing imports is the obligation to ship the goods directly from the country of origin (decree 619/98, November 1998), thus preventing the goods from being regrouped. This law has however been relaxed for companies having subsidiaries in other countries by permitting them to ship from the country of their registered office or from their overseas subsidiaries. Together with this the obligation to get the certificates of origin legalized in the country of origin of the goods has been introduced.
In fact, some products are still banned, especially in the field of textiles and poultry, and automobiles must be imported in the year of their manufacture.
Packaged goods must have an Arabic instruction booklet and all handling instructions must be written in English and Arabic.

As of December 2015, Egyptian importers may be required to register their foreign suppliers with the Government. The Ministry of Trade and Industry approved a list of 50 commodities that require import registration at the General Organisation for Exports and Imports Control (GOEIC). The list of products to register includes garments, furnishings, home appliances, carpets, textiles, shoes, steel, blankets, bikes, motorbikes, watches, mineral/natural waters and soda. In addition, overseas suppliers must allow Egyptian technical teams to inspect their imported products to ensure that environmental and labour standards are met. They may be also required to provide a certificate of quality control from a recognised body of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).

Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
- Canned tuna in soya oil from Thailand (Egyptian ban);
- Anti-dumping investigation on import blocks frames from Turkey;
- Tariff applied on the import of textile and clothing products;
- Customs duties on match boxes from Pakistan.
Assessment of Commercial Policy
Egypt and the WTO
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the United States
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the EU
Sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, inventoried by the EU

Learn more about How to Export to Egypt on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.



National Standards Organisations
EOS, Egyptian Organization for Standards & Quality
NIS, National Institute of Standards
Integration in the International Standards Network
Egypt recognizes the ISO standard. It also accepts the European, British, Japanese and American standards. When there is no national standard for a product, Egypt normally uses the ISO standard, the IEC or the codex alimentarius.
Classification of Standards
EGP then a number/year.
Online Consultation of Standards
The Egyptian standards can be accessed from the EOS website on payment.
Certification Organisations
EOS Egyptian Organization for Standardization & Quality
EGAC Egyptian Accreditation Council


© Export Entreprises SA, All Rights Reserved.
Last Updates: May 2018