Patto commerciale a tre con gli USA segna la fine degli indugi tra Egitto ed Isr

M.O., USA, Egitto, Israele, commint

Patto commerciale a tre con gli USA segna la fine degli indugi tra Egitto ed Israele

· USA, Egitto e Israele intendono firmare accordo che permetterà ad Egitto di esportare in USA a dazio zero prodotti di tre zone industriali (grande Cairo, Alessandria e Porto Said ) che abbiano almeno il 3% di valore aggiunto egiziano e un contenuto israeliano di almeno l’11,7%.

· L’accordo rafforzerebbe i legami economici Egitto-Israele.

· Egitto punta a vantaggi nel settore abbigliamento, che compensino gli effetti della fine delle quote tessili e della conseguente invasione di prodotti cinesi, indiani e pak. Preoccupazione per l’accordo dei tessili USA.

· Analogo accordo è già stato firmato tra USA, Giordania e Israele. L’80% dell’export giordano in USA è tessile, seguito da elettromeccanica e farmaci.

· Trattative tra USA ed Egitto per un più ampio accordo di libero scambio erano fallite l’anno scorso per rifiuto Egitto di appoggiare posizione USA vs. UE su alimenti GMO.

Three-Way Trade Pact With U.S. Marks Egypt-Israel Breakthrough



December 10, 2004; Page A13

WASHINGTON — The U.S., Egypt and Israel plan to sign a groundbreaking trade deal next week in Cairo that will allow Egypt to send goods to the U.S. duty-free if they have a set percentage of Israeli content.

For Israel and Egypt, this will be the first formal economic engagement since the 1978 Camp David accords. It comes as the two countries show other signs of increased cooperation, including a prisoner swap on Sunday and a promise by Egypt to play a central role in getting the stalled Middle East peace process moving again.

The trade agreement calls for the establishment of three so-called qualified industrial zones in Egypt, and mirrors a similar arrangement involving Jordan and Israel. Products that will qualify for duty-free shipments must have at least 35% of their value added in Egypt and of that amount, 11.7% must be Israeli content. The zones will be in Port Said, greater Cairo, and Alexandria.

The deal comes as Cairo moves forward on a set of ambitious economic overhauls, including business-tax cuts and lower import tariffs, under a new prime minister and cabinet members who took office last summer. Egyptian officials have lobbied the Bush administration for months to win approval of a trade arrangement with the U.S., mainly to offset potential job losses as the Egyptian government implements changes that could prove costly in the short term.

Egypt is particularly eager to gain an edge in the garment sector just as the international quota system that has controlled access to the U.S. market for more than 40 years is coming to an end. Garments, textiles and rugs are by far the largest Egyptian exports to the U.S., and together totaled more than $1.1 billion this year through September. Egyptian officials fear that when the quota system ends on Dec. 31, its garment exports will be squeezed as other countries — namely China, India and Pakistan — gain a competitive edge.

The agreement doesn’t require U.S. congressional approval, giving critics little leverage to stop the pact or force changes. For American textile manufacturers, the initiative further dramatizes the broader forces pressuring the industry. “It’s just another whack at this industry,” said Karl Spilhaus, president of the National Textile Association in the Washington. He suggested it will be difficult for U.S. officials to ensure the zones don’t become feeders for fabric and materials produced outside Egypt. “It sounds to me like it’s just another gaping loophole,” he said.

Under a similar deal among the U.S., Jordan and Israel, Jordan has seen its exports to the U.S. skyrocket in recent years. Jordan’s overall exports to the U.S. have hit $755 million this year through September, up from $482 million for all of last year. Garments account for nearly 80% of Jordan’s sales to the U.S., but other products, such as electrical machinery and pharmaceuticals, also are coming on strong. Jordan also has a separate free-trade agreement with the U.S., signed in 2001.

Egypt remains in discussions with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick about launching negotiations toward an overall free-trade deal. Talks last year were scrapped after Egypt backed off supporting the U.S. in a fight with the European Union over genetically modified foods. Officials on both sides say negotiations are more likely now that Egypt has embarked on a new economic course, including customs and other changes the U.S. has wanted to see for years. Mr. Zoellick will join Egyptian Foreign Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid and Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Ehud Olmert, for the signing in Cairo on Tuesday.

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