Egypt Adopts System Requiring Importers to Declare Cargo in Advance

Suez Canal Container Terminal (file image courtesy APMT)

Published Jun 11, 2021 1:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

Egypt is set to implement a new law designed to protect its territory from supply chain security threats.

Following a decree issued by the Ministry of Finance in February, all importers in the country will be required to declare all cargo before leaving the port of origin when the new Advance Cargo Information Declaration (ACID) system takes effect come July 1. The system has been going through a three-month trial period.

Under the new law importers will be required to declare full information about goods to be shipped to Egypt before actual loading from the exporting country. The move is aimed at monitoring any security threats that goods entering the country could pose.

Effectively, importers will be required to provide customs officials with data of the ‘supplier, importer and the imported goods’ to be declared prior to shipment from the port of load for customs risk assessment.

On approval being given to the ship, a tracking number will be issued and must appear on all documentation, including the bill of lading and carrier manifest.

Shipping lines are warning importers that any cargo arriving in Egypt on or after July 1 without an ACID reference will not be allowed to discharge and cargo will be returned by the carrier to port of load at shippers’ expense.

“With the complete implementation on July 1, 2021, Maersk will strictly refrain from loading any shipment planned to be destined to Egypt at the first load port if ACI related data will be missing or failed during validation stage,” said Maersk in a statement.

The World Customs Organization (WCO) adopted the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) in 2005 to identify high-risk cargo prior to loading and/or arrival on any trade lane between member states.

The ACI, combined with the use of appropriate customs risk management systems, allows customs administrations to mitigate security risks prior to loading or prior to arrival of cargo into a territory.

Through the appropriate application of risk management on ACI, customs officials are able to separate cargo shipments into different categories and match resources to the shipments that require maximum intervention, while facilitating the clearance of low risk consignments.

Egypt is the first country in Africa to implement the system, and it comes at a time when trade in the country is on a growth trajectory, driven by increase in throughput at its main seaports.

World Bank data show that trade represents 43 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, with value of goods imports standing at $70.9 billion in 2019 and value of exports standing at $28.9 billion. China accounts for a significant share of imports entering Egypt at 15.3 percent of total imports followed by the United States at 6.6 percent, Saudi Arabia at 6.6 percent, Germany at 5.5 percent and Turkey at 4.7 percent.