Egypt says Apple is violating competition rules, has 60 days to act

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Apple and its regional distributor have 60 days to change how they do business in Egypt or face with legal corrective action by the Egyptian Competition Authority, according to a new government decree.

Apple is breaking the law by preventing its Middle East distributor, Arab Business Machine, from selling to local Egyptian distributors — deterring "intra-brand competition," the Competition Authority said. The iPhone maker is also said to be blocking parallel imports of its products.

Elaborating, the Competition Authority argued that although businesses have a right to segment sales by region, the Egyptian market has effectively been isolated from the rest of the Middle East, causing local prices to skyrocket.

The Egyptian Competition Authority has a role similar to that of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which also oversees antitrust issues, such as Qualcomm's controversial chip-selling practices.

iPhone prices in the country can sometimes be as much as 50 percent higher than other Middle Eastern nations. Bloomberg gave the example of a 512-gigabyte iPhone XS Max, which costs the equivalent of $1,306 in the United Arab Emirates but a whopping $1,983 in Egypt. The standard U.S. price is $1,449.

Apple is facing increasing global scrutiny for potentially anti-competitive practices. In Japan for example the company has been accused of undermining a Yahoo game platform, and in the U.S. a battle is ongoing over whether the iOS App Store constitutes a monopoly.