Algeria has taken an extraordinary step amid the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure a steady supply of imported food, health products and medical equipment: these goods may be picked up from ports immediately on arrival for distribution, without having to go through normal customs procedures. The North African country imports 8 million tons of wheat for a population of 43 million. Officials have said that Algeria has enough food supplies to last it for the next few months, but are taking the proactive measure as Algerians are currently buying larger-than-normal quantities of essentials such as flour and semolina. The Algerian government also announced it would be importing US$100 million worth of medical equipment and pharmaceutical products, mainly from China.
Why It Matters
Removing customs formalities is a trade-off between ensuring faster distribution of essential imported goods and preventing trafficking via regular shipping routes. Should other countries in the Maghreb institute similar lax customs policies, it could allow weapons shipments into Libya and give neighboring countries even greater freedom to continue ignoring the arms embargo established in January.