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Under George Bush’s administration, in 2003, the US Trade Representative is said to have ’punished’ Egypt by suspending all overtures towards an FTA when Egypt withdrew its support for a US dispute against the European Union on trade in genetically modified crops at the WTO. This lasted until late 2004, when the overtures started picking up again. However, the US froze FTA talks after allegations of fraud and corruption surrounding Egypt’s December 2005 elections and they have not restarted since.

In the meantime, the US brokered a deal between Egypt and Israel to set up a ’qualifying industrial zone’ between the two countries, which angered both Egyptians and Arab neighbours. In 2009, under Obama’s administration, US and Egyptian trade officials signed a Plan for a Strategic Partnership which pledged to follow “a program of intensified U.S.-Egyptian cooperation on economic, trade, and investment issues”. But there have been no substantive moves towards negotiating a bilateral FTA between the two countries.

The European Union has had a preferential trade agreement with Egypt since 2001, which it hopes to upgrade in the process of achieving a fullblown EU-Mediterranean FTA.

Egypt signed a bilateral FTA with Turkey in December 2005, and another with EFTA in 2007. In 2010 it signed an FTA with Mercosur. Regionally, it is party to the Agadir Agreement, GAFTA and COMESA. Cairo is currently negotiating or considering FTAs with Russia, India and Indonesia.

last update: May 2012
photo: Hossam el-Hamalawy/CC BY 2.0

Egypt boosts Swiss trade relations as euro weakens
Egypt is looking to mitigate the negative short-term effects of the weakening euro by diversifying its trade partners and increasing volumes with members of the European Free Trade Association, the country’s trade minister said.
Egypt, Mercosur to complete free trade agreement in July
Egypt expects to complete free trade negotiations with the four Mercosur countries — Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay — in July, Egypt’s trade minister said on Wednesday.
US Trade Rep looking to increase trade with Egypt
US Trade Representative Ron Kirk will travel to Egypt next week for talks with a key Arab ally that has long wanted a free trade agreement with the United States.
Egypt, Russia press ahead for free trade agreement
Officials from Egypt and Russia will meet in Cairo in July to continue negotiations for a free trade agreement between the two countries
Egypt seeks to expand US trade zones
Egypt has asked the United States to expand preferential trade industrial export zones in southern Egypt, but a bilateral free trade deal is “off the table” for now, Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid said yesterday.
Joint statement of USTR and Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry
The US and Egypt have signed a "Plan for a Strategic Partnership" to develop bilateral trade and investment
US, Egypt aim to bolster trade and investment ties
US and Egyptian officials signed agreements Wednesday aimed at strengthening trade and investment links between the two nations, a move that comes a week ahead of a trip to Egypt by US President Barack Obama.
Uncertainty over hope
Egypt has never been a major trading partner for the US, and after a Free Trade Agreement between the two failed to get off the ground during the previous two administrations, the question now is whether Obama’s team will be open to new negotiations or whether Egypt should focus its efforts more narrowly.
Egypt to discuss FTA with India
Egypt on Tuesday said it would explore the possibility of a Free Trade Agreement with India to boost trade and investment between the two countries.
Egypt, Israel to amend trade agreement
Egypt and Israel have agreed to reduce the percentage of Israeli components that must be included in Egyptian-made products that receive duty-free status when exported to the United States