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Egypt, US consider free trade talks

Al Jazeera

15 January 2005

Egypt, U.S. consider free trade talks

The United States and Egypt are studying the possibility of opening talks for Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2005, a U.S. Trade Representative release said.

Nabil Fahmy, the Egyptian Ambassador to the United States said that his government considers the FTA talks as a way to promote reforms and boost economic growth.

Speaking at a seminar in Washington on trade and investment in the Middle East last week, Mr. Fahmy said: "Unless we can grow at 7-8 percent a year, we will not achieve our own developmental requirements. That requires us to pursue liberalized reform policies". "One of the main reasons why we are interested in an FTA is frankly to generate and energize our own reform process back home."

"We will be very interested in listening very closely this year to our American counterparts to see how far we can go with this and how soon we can get started," Fahmy said.

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative, Cathy Novelli, said the United States and Egypt are "robustly engaged" and "making a great deal of progress" in trade and investment issues, however, she didn’t say whether the U.S. and Egypt are expected to reach a final decision on FTA this year.

Novelli added that the Bush administration is using FTA’s with individual Arab states, part of Washington’s efforts to build a region-wide Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) by 2013.

Novelli said that both sides must seek the same results in order for the negotiations to succeed.