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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

US stokes new hope of free trade deal with Egypt
US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said on Thursday he believed Egypt and the United States were destined to negotiate a free trade agreement, reviving hopes of a deal dashed many times.
EU-Egypt: European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan adopted
The 3rd EU-Egypt Association Council has adopted the EU-Egypt Action Plan under the European Neighbourhood Policy which will set the agenda for the EU-Egypt cooperation for the next 3-5 years. With the adoption of this Action Plan, Egypt and the EU agree to enter into intensified political, security, economic, trade, investment, scientific, technological and cultural relations.
Still allies, more or less
The issue of an Egyptian-American free trade agreement figured prominently on the agenda of talks between Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Rashid Mohamed Rashid and US Deputy Secretary of Commerce David Sampson last week.
Egypt will be ready for free trade with Europe in three years
Egypt will be ready to create free trade area with Europe in three years, announced prime minister Ahmed Nazif. The Arab country already has a tariff preference agreement with the EU, but it does not include all products traded.
Up from Down Under
As Egypt continues to grow at a near-unprecedented rate, Australia is looking to claim its share of the most vibrant and diverse economy in the region. Relations between the two countries go back decades, but Australian trade officials admit ties still need work as they eye opportunities in Egypt’s strategic location, large local market and lucrative free-trade agreements (FTAs) - including the EU-Egypt Association Agreement - that open the door to even larger markets.
EU and Egypt fail to unblock association deal
Egypt and the European Union failed to wrap up a "neighbourhood action plan" because of differences over human rights in Egypt and nuclear weapons in the Middle East, an EU official said yesterday.
Free trade, minus the warmth and the longing
In Egypt, just because a couple is engaged doesn’t mean they’ll get married.
FTA... at what cost?
At a recent AmCham gathering, discussions with a US congressional staffer made clear that if FTA negotiations were not launched soon, Egypt would have to wait until at least 2010.
When the time is right
"The time is not right." US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez’s terse statement summed up his answers to repeated questions as to why negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between Egypt and the US appear to have been abandoned.
Egypt against conditional deals
An Egyptian official yesterday said that the timing of signing a free trade agreement (FTA) "wasn’t appropriate from the Egyptian and US points of view".