Algeria lifts imports ban on food industry raw materials

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria’s government has temporarily reversed a ban on imports of some raw materials for its food industry after shortages hit local firms, the trade ministry said on Tuesday.

Imports of the materials were prohibited in a ban on imports of 951 products including cell phones and household appliances earlier this year, imposed as part of a drive to cut spending after a fall in energy earnings.

The partial removal of the import ban is limited to raw materials needed for some categories of foods including chocolate, biscuits, confectionery, yoghurt and juice.

“These inputs are from now on free for import,” the trade ministry said in a statement.

Algeria is trying to cut spending and encourage domestic output, but its non-energy sector is still under-developed, forcing the government to ship most goods from abroad.

The government has agreed a half-year period for local manufacturers of raw materials to increase output and meet drinks producers’ needs, the trade ministry said.

In February, Ali Hamani, head of the Algerian Association for Drinks Producers, told Reuters the import restrictions were putting the sector at risk.

The import ban had replaced a license system, whereby importers had to apply for a license to buy from overseas.

Neither measure has resulted in a significant fall in Algeria’s import bill.

Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Aidan Lewis/Mark Heinrich