CAIRO, July 5 (Reuters) - Egypt's parliament passed a law on Wednesday establishing a gas regulatory authority that the government hopes will attract greater private sector participation in the country's rapidly expanding gas sector.

Egypt has said it aims to be a regional hub for the trade of liquefied natural gas (LNG) after a string of major discoveries which are expected to make the country gas self-sufficient by the end of 2018.

The new authority and law are expected to pave the way for private sector companies to import and distribute gas within the country, activities currently monopolised by the government.

The prime minister is expected to issue executive regulations for the gas law within six months.

(Reporting by Nashat Hamdy; writing by Eric Knecht; editing by David Clarke) ((; +20 2 2394 8102; Reuters Messaging: