CAIRO: Egyptian exports to Arab countries increased by 25 percent, according to the Foreign Trade annual report. Egyptian non-petrol exports to Arab countries have reached $5.43 billion in 2007 compared to $4.43 billion a year earlier, the Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry, Rachid Mohamed Rachid said on Wednesday in a meeting for the Arab Economy Council.
In the meeting, the minister said that the top export Arab countries are Saudi Arabia with $973 million, Libya with $760 million and Syria with $611 million. “The Arab Economic Summit will be a great step towards Arab economic integration, said Rachid.
The report was issued by the Exports and Imports Control Authority and showed that Egyptian total exports increased by 22 percent in 2006/2007 to reach LE 84.35 billion compared to LE 69.09 billion a year earlier.
According to the report, the Italian market is the largest importer from Egypt with LE 8.86 billion topping the US market, which came ranked second with LE 8.54 billion in 2006/2007.
Egyptian exports to the United States scored LE 8.54 billion in 2006/2007 against LE 8.88 billion last year, the report indicated.
Many reasons could have contributed to the exports climb. One of which, economists say, is the financial support the government provides for Egyptian exporters.
“Government subsidies on exports as well as the QIZ (Qualifying Industrial Zones) protocol could be an indirect reason for higher exports in general,
Ahmed Ghoneim, an associate professor of economics at the faculty of economics and political studies, told Daily News Egypt.
A contractual deal aiming at boosting exports from the so-called Qualifying Industrial Zones, exclusively between Egypt and Jordan, permits duty-free entrance of goods to the United States provided they include Israeli constituents.
Ghoneim added that it is hard to judge on the short run the real reason behind the increase and whether it is a real benefit to the Egyptian economy.
“Short-run increases in the exports could be due to an international increase in prices of some units . what we rather seek is the average increase over a period of time between three to five years, Ghoneim said.
An international rise in prices of certain products like steel and cement over the past three months could also be a reason for the recent exports climb, the economist added.
For years, the EU has been Egypt s main trade partner and currently accounts for 35 percent of Egypt s imports and more than 40 percent of its exports, Thomas Viot, trade expert at the European Commission Delegation in Egypt, stated in the delegation’s latest report.
“These figures have been increasing by more than 15 percent every year during the last four years and potential is still very high, added the report.
The Egyptian market has been opening up gradually, especially since the EU-Egypt Association Agreement which came into force in June 2004, said the Federation of International Trade Associations in its Annual report issued in January 2008.
According to the report, the top three export partners are: Italy, the USA and Spain. And its top three import partners are: the USA, Germany and China.
Egypt mainly exports mineral fuels and oils, cotton, and iron and steel; while as it mainly imports consumer electronic and capital goods, nuclear reactors and boilers, cereals, food products, and chemicals.