FILE PHOTO: General view of the port terminal in Algiers, Algeria March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo
ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algeria, seeking to avoid shortages of health products and basic foodstuffs during the coronavirus pandemic, has taken “exceptional measures” to accelerate customs procedures for importers, customs said on Saturday.
All health products, medical equipment and staple foods will be taken from ports on arrival, and customs formalities will take place “at a later time”, it said in a statement.
The North African country has sufficient food stocks to meet its needs for the next few months, officials have said, but demand has surged, with Algerians buying food, including semolina and flour, in large quantities since the start of the coronavirus outbreak for fear of shortages.
Algeria, one of the world’s biggest grains importers, purchases around 8 million tonnes of soft and durum wheat for its population of 43 million.
The government has also announced plans to spend $100 million on imports of pharmaceutical products and equipment, mainly from China, to counter the virus.
Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed, Editing by Christina Fincher