Minister: Qualifying Industrial Zone exports rose 11% in 2011

Exports of textiles and ready-made clothes from Egypt's Qualifying Industrial Zones increased between January and October 2011, said Industry and Trade Minister Mahmoud Eissa Thursday.

According to an agreement with the United States, hundreds of Egyptian companies in these zones can export products containing Israeli components to the US duty-free. Exports have totaled around US$800 million annually.

Exports increased by 11 percent to $829 million in 2011, up from $746 million during the same period in 2010, said Eissa in a statement.

He added that Egypt is seeking to add new zones to the initial agreement, including some areas in Upper Egyptian governorates whose names are expected to be announced soon.

“We are seeking through talks with the US to reduce the [minimum amount] of Israeli content [needed in zone-produced goods] from 11.2 to 8 percent,” Eissa told reporters last week.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party have on many occasions demanded Egypt cancel the Qualifying Industrial Zones agreement, which was signed in December 2004.

However, Ashraf Badr Eddin, the head of the Brotherhood's economic policy committee, told Reuters on 12 January that his group will not seek to end the agreement.

Existing agreements with Israel should be maintained so long as Israel sticks to the terms, Badr Eddin said.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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