Imports of alcoholic beverages into Algeria will soon be banned. The upper house of the country's parliament approved the 2004 budget yesterday, which includes an amendment to outlaw alcohol imports, starting on 1 January 2004.

The amendment was initially introduced by an Islamic party lawmaker. The lower house passed the amendment on 10 November, contrary to the finance minister's fears of reciprocity. Abdelatif Benachenhou warned at the time that trade partners could levy a tax on Algerian wine and beer exports.

Islamic parties in Algeria would like to ban the sale of alcohol altogether. The amendment is likely to affect the country's hotels and restaurants and increase the already booming trade in contraband.