Finance Minister Mohamed Maait speaks during a news conference in Cairo. Photo: Reuters

CAIRO – Egypt is set to end a discounted customs exchange rate in December for imports of goods that are considered non-essential, the finance minister said on Friday.

Egypt began setting a monthly fixed customs exchange rate in January last year, following the flotation of its pound currency in November 2016.

In recent months the customs rate for all goods had been set at 16 Egyptian pounds to the dollar. On the currency market, Egypt's pound has held steady in a narrow range of 17.78 to 17.98 to the dollar over the last six months.

From Dec. 1 the rate for strategic and essential goods will remain at 16, while the rate for non-essential goods will be set as the average exchange rate listed by the central bank during the preceding month, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement carried by state news agency MENA.

The non-essential goods include tobacco products, alcohol, pet food and cosmetics, the statement said.

Some goods, such as mobile phones and computers that are exempt from customs taxes, goods including furniture and shoes that are manufactured locally, and cars and motorbikes, will also be subject to the new rate.

Industrial and agricultural raw products will still be imported at the discounted rate, according to the finance minister's statement.