The Egyptian government is poised to scrap clothes import barriers but introduce higher customs duties, a senior official announced yesterday.

"Egypt will begin in January 2002 to liberalise its textile trade in accordance with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Accord signed in 1995," First Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade, El-Sayed Abu El-Komsan, said.

"Liberalisation of the textile sector would include open doors to all types of previously banned textile products."

Komsan added that the ministry recently increased inspection fees on many imported goods including blankets, clothing, belts, bed sheets and curtains.

However, he revealed that the Ministries of Finance and Industry are looking at imposing the highest rate of customs duty - 55 per cent - on imported clothes. A decision is expected soon.

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