On the 29th of October 2023, Law No. 173 of 2023 was published in the Official Gazette amending the Importers Register Law No. 121 of 1982. The amendment entered into force on the 30th of October 2023.
Importation licenses in Egypt are governed by the Importers Register Law (“Law”), which sets conditions for individuals and legal entities to register in the Importers Register. Among other conditions, Article 2 of the Law (as previously amended on 7 February 2018) restricts the registration in the Importers Register to Egyptian nationals, and Egyptian companies the capital of which is at least 51% Egyptian-owned. The registration is valid for five years and is renewable for similar terms as long as the importer remains compliant with the license conditions.
Within a more comprehensive plan of legislative reform promoting foreign investment, the new Law No. 173 of 2023 (“Amendment”) was issued to provide for an exception to this restriction. Companies with less than 51% Egyptian shareholding (“Foreign-owned Companies”) are now eligible to register in the Importers Register.
The Amendment, however, provides for a limited window for the validity of registration; Foreign-owned Companies may not be registered in the Importers Register for aggregate periods exceeding 10 years as of the date the Amendment has entered into force (“Registration Period”). A possibility of a one-time extension of the Registration Period is foreseen under the Amendment by virtue a decree to be issued by the Council of Ministers based on a recommendation by the Minister of Foreign Trade.
It is worthy of note that the Amendment strictly addresses the exemption of Foreign-owned Companies from the condition of the 51% Egyptian shareholding. This means that these companies are still required to comply with the other registration conditions stated in Article 2 of the Law. These conditions include, inter alia, a minimum capital of EGP 2 million for limited liability companies and EGP 5 million for joint stock companies, the lapse of one year as of incorporation, achieving a turnover of EGP 5 million in the year preceding registration, as well as the appointment of a qualified importation manager who must be an Egyptian national.
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