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Egypt tightens rules on importers in crackdown on foreign goods

CAIRO, June 3 (Reuters) - Egypt's Trade Ministry has issued tough new regulations on importers by sharply raising the minimum capital they need to operate, the government's latest effort to curb foreign-made goods and spur local manufacturing.

Under the ministry's executive regulations, the minimum capital required for the smallest companies to register was hiked to 500,000 Egyptian pounds (about $28,000) from 10,000 pounds previously. For limited companies, the minimum threshold was raised to two million pounds from 15,000 pounds previously.

"This is in line with measures taken by the ministry in the past to limit the import of low-quality goods," the Trade Ministry said in a statement.

"It also aims to encourage new investments in national industries and protecting them from unfair competition from imported products," it added.

The new regulations also raise the minimum capital required for a joint stock company to be registered to 5 million pounds. Importers will have six months in order to adjust to the reform, which was contained in an amendment to the Importers Register Law passed in March.

Import-dependent Egypt is struggling to revive its economy and curb a trade deficit since a 2011 uprising drove away tourists and foreign investors.

Importers have criticised previous government measures aimed at reducing demand for foreign goods, saying local producers do not have the capacity to fill the gap. ($1 = 17.9500 Egyptian pounds) (Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Helen Popper)