US ambassador: We fully support the Egyptian economy

The US is helping the Egyptian economy survive in this difficult time and be able to compete with other economies, US Ambassador Anne Patterson said Monday, noting that Washington is committed to a strategic partnership with Egypt, especially regarding trade.

Speaking at an American Chamber of Commerce meeting, Patterson said that Egypt has a priority in US cooperation with the countries of the Middle East, and that Egyptian businessmen are encouraged to increase exports to the US, while US companies are encouraged to invest in Egypt and form partnerships with the private sector.

"In the immediate term, we would like to see Egyptian companies take greater advantage of existing programs that would benefit Egyptian exports to US markets, such as the Globalized System of Preferences (GSP). These programs allow certain types of Egyptian goods to enter the US duty-free, making it cheaper to 'buy Egyptian',” she said.

The US ambassador said she is optimistic about the future of Egypt's economy. She said the country's mix of geography, population and resources makes it a natural hub for regional trade and commerce.

Patterson said that according to at least one study, if Egypt strengthens its economic institutions and embraces economic modernization now, "it could be one of the top 10 world economies within a generation."

“This is a historic time for Egypt, with the promise of tremendous change and opportunity. Later this month, Egypt will have a newly elected parliament and prepare for constitutional reforms as well as the election of a new president,” she said. 

Recently, the relations between the two strategic allies have been very tense after the Egyptian police raided some 17 pro-democracy groups, including the US-funded National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute, both loosely affiliated with the leading US political parties.

The US government hinted it could review the US$1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt if the raids continued, underscoring Washington's concern over political developments in a country seen as the lynchpin of the Middle East.

However, the Egyptian government said the raid was part of an investigation into illegal funding of political activities, which they said has increased since former President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in an uprising last year.

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