US mulls renewing free trade negotiations with Egypt

After years of stalled talks on a potential free trade agreement with Egypt, the US is once again discussing the potential benefits, according to US-Egypt Business Council Executive Director Khush Choksy.

An official at Egypt's Trade and Industry Ministry stressed, though, that the government has not yet heard from the US about renewing negotiations for such an agreement.  

Choksy told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the negotiation is still in its early stages and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington will prepare a research paper to identify how the US would benefit from the agreement before it enters joint negotiations. The US is expected to begin cabinet-level discussions on the matter before the end of the year, he added.

The US may be more open to a free trade agreement than in past years due to its poor economic climate and 9 percent unemployment rate, Choksy said, adding that the American Chamber of Commerce has requested new markets for American products to improve trade.

Saeed Abdallah, undersecretary at the Trade and Industry Ministry, said the ministry has not received any notification about renewed talks.

Abdallah said no new steps have been taken to open discussion, adding that the last meeting with the US on trade issues took place between former Trade and Industry Minister Samir Sayyad and the US ambassador in Cairo. He also said the discussions touched upon a potential agreement, but that the minister reassured the ambassador that Egypt would not bring it up unless the US made the request and Congress approved the move.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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