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In the context of free trade negotiations with the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), Egypt has asked for poultry products and other food commodities to be included in a list of sensitive products on which duties will not be reduced.
An agreement is scheduled for signature at the Mercosur summit in Buenos Aires at the end of this month, which Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed is due to attend.
A prominant official at the Ministry of Trade and Industry said an agreement has been reached with Mercosur on setting five categories for commodities and products. The first category, which includes intermediate goods and raw materials, will be free of duties once the agreement enters into force. The second group will be freed over four years, the third group over eight years, and the fourth over ten years. There is still no agreed time period for the fifth group, which includes sensitive products, due to fears of negative effects on local industry.
The source added that Egypt requested Mercosur to include textiles, clothes, construction materials, and engineering and chemical products among the first category.
Trade between Egypt and Morcosur reached US$1.4 bn in 2009. Egypt's main exports were petroleum, aluminium, raw cotton and leather, whereas its main imports were poultry, oils, sugar, soyabeans and meat.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.