U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Egyptian Minister for Industry and Foreign Trade Mahmoud Eisa met on January 18, 2012. They agreed that greater integration into the global marketplace could help strengthen Egypt’s economic competitiveness and therefore its prospects for the investment and sustained growth needed to create job opportunities for Egyptians. With this in mind, officials from the United States and Egypt will jointly develop an Action Plan designed to enhance further the already strong bilateral trade and investment relationship.
The Ministers reaffirmed the commitment of the United States and Egypt to a strong trade and investment partnership, based on the shared objective of increasing the well-being of all our people.
The United States stands ready to undertake a range of actions to support Egypt’s economic growth, of which increased trade and investment will be a vital component. Egypt underscores its commitment to enhance the conditions for a dynamic economy, based on open markets, rule of law, innovation, and full utilization of the talents and imagination of its people.
The Action Plan will have three main objectives: boosting exports, expanding investment, and supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with a focus on stimulating job creation. Individual elements of the program could initially include cooperation in areas such as increasing trade in goods, SME development and participation in trade, initiatives to promote investment and services trade, trade facilitation and promotion, agricultural trade, good regulatory practices, and protecting intellectual property rights and promoting innovation.
Initial detailed steps to achieve these objectives could include:
Boosting Bilateral Trade:
The United States and Egyptian governments would seek to enhance Egyptian use of U.S. preference programs by undertaking certain steps to increase Egypt’s utilization of duty-free exports to the U.S. market under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program and by developing a workplan to consider ways to expand use of the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZs) through redesignation of current QIZs to allow for fresh investment, and advancing expansion of the QIZ program to Upper Egypt.
The United States and Egypt would cooperate to identify Egyptian priorities for U.S. Department of Agriculture review of requests for approval for importation of Egyptian plant products.
Both sides would agree to work together to promote investment in the Egyptian market through several measures for the benefit of the Egyptian people, including:
• The United States would work with the private sector to promote investment in Egypt through business missions to Egypt and organization of investment conferences.
• The United States and Egypt would develop a joint statement in which the United States commits to promote the growth of investment and services in the Egyptian market, Egypt confirms the openness of its market to international investment, and both sides agree on shared investment principles.
• The United States would provide appropriate expert technical assistance, including in individual sectors that will be defined by experts.
Strengthening the SME Sector in Egypt:
The United States would explore means of support to enhance the SME sector in Egypt by:
• Sharing best practices in SME support and providing expertise to help SMEs in Egypt participate more actively in international trade.
• Establishing SME business centers in Egypt to foster development and provide services to SMEs.
• Providing OPIC financing to encourage lending by Egyptian banks to SME’s in Egypt.
To support and achieve these goals in the short term, the United States is prepared to offer technical assistance to Egypt which will help increase Egyptian competitiveness and expand job opportunities and economic growth, and Egypt is prepared to facilitate these efforts.
Experts from both Governments will identify concrete steps for the Action Plan. The United States has emphasized that these steps will be the foundation for renewed cooperation. The United States has also proposed enhanced cooperation in the areas of customs, labor and regional cooperation.
The experts will produce a wide-ranging Action Plan for cooperation within the next few weeks, which will then be reviewed by the two Governments at the Ministerial level.