Morocco, Egypt to strengthen trade ties

Morocco, Egypt to strengthen trade ties

May 10, 2006

By ANDnetwork .com

Despite a free trade agreement between Morocco and Egypt, entered in force in 1999, trade exchanges remain meager between the two. However, the two countries have resolved to boost trade and to level off the trade balance.

Experts say the joint Moroccan-Egyptian High Commission, due to meet on Thursday in the central town of Marrakech under the co-chairmanship of king Mohammed VI and President Hosni Moubarak, is expected to remedy this situation.

Despite a free trade agreement between the two countries, entered in force in 1999, trade exchanges remain meager, totaling barely US$180 million in 2005, with a clear advantage for the Egyptian part, which exports products worth $159 million against only $21 million by Morocco.

Economic operators in both sides pinned hope on the accord (which also provides for the total removal of customs in twelve years) to considerably raise commercial exchanges, but the upward tendency was not as satisfactory as they wished.

For the chairperson of the Egyptian party in the joint council of businessmen, Yamani Felfela, it is necessary to sign an additional memorandum to give a new impetus to the existing FTA. The document, he suggests, should remove the remaining 25% of customs, the list of non-exempted products, and the liberalisation of agro-business products.

As to Egypt’s ambassador in Rabat, Fathi Abdelmottalib, the whole problem of this unbalance is the “lack of communication". He called on the two countries’ businessmen to think of joint investment projects such as the creation of a direct maritime line, and the electric inter-connection part of the joint Arab action between north African countries and Egypt.

The high commission is expected to result in signing a number of co-operation agreements in the realms as diversified as culture, information, higher education, housing and urbanism, justice, tourism, industry.

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source: ANDnetwork