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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

Cairo angered by US trade talks freeze
Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Egypt’s trade and industry minister, criticised Washington yesterday for mixing business with politics in its decision to freeze negotiations on a free trade agreement.
Rice: Timing off for free trade with Egypt
The United States will not seek a free trade agreement with Egypt this year because the "timing" is not right, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.
Time not right for US-Egypt trade pact: Rice
The time is not right for the United States and Egypt to begin negotiations on a free- trade agreement, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview on Friday with Arab media.
Freedom isn’t free
Disarray on the political side of the house casts the side of free-trade talks with the United States into question.
Trading diplomacy
This week the issue of a potential US- Egyptian free trade agreement (FTA) emerged back in the spotlight. Reports coming from Washington suggest that the Bush administration has once again put on hold Egypt’s long aspired to dreams of a bilateral FTA.
Egypt-US free trade deal at risk: US official
Egypt risks missing its chance to clinch a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States if talks do not kick off in the coming weeks, an official with the US Congress said.
PhRMA statement on US-Egypt free trade agreement
PhRMA believes that a strong FTA is in the interests of Egyptian patients as well as the business community.
At last, a done deal
Days before 2005 closed, Egypt and Turkey finally signed a free trade agreement (FTA) the negotiations of which began in 1997.
Rachid strikes trade deal with Turkey
A high-powered Turkish delegation, headed by President Ahmed Necdet Sezer, arrived in Cairo last month to sign a free-trade deal with Egypt in what an editorial in the Turkish Daily News said could be a “turning point in relations between two regional powers.”
Industries eye qiz option
When representatives of Egypt, Israel and the US met in Cairo last December, they signed a historic agreement that more or less linked Egypt’s industrial success to its willingness to cooperate with its traditional foe, Israel.