By Abd Al-Qader Ramadan
Egypt’s exports to the United States under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme totalled $50m, said Anwar Sahragti, president of the Egyptian Commercial Service (ECS). He added that this was a small sum when compared to countries such as Thailand, whose exports under the same system totalled $3bn.
The GSP programme is derived from the Most Favoured Nation principle, one of the cornerstones of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) trade laws, which obliges all WTO member states to give equal treatment, in terms of imposing tarrifs or restrictions, to imports from other WTO members, in essence treating all natioans the same as they do for their “most favoured” trading partners.
Sahragti stated that the country’s Coordinating Secretariat created on Monday a GSP committee within the Egyptian Commercial Service aimed at educating Egyptian businessmen about the potential to increase their total exports to the United States via the GSP programme. The Coordinating Secretariat was established by the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade to monitor Egypt’s commercial relationship with the United States and increase trade between the two countries.
The committee was also tasked with promoting and sponsoring employee training workshops in order to increase productivity, and in particular to identify which Egyptian products would best be able to compete on the world market.
Sahragti added that under the United State’s GSP programme, developing countries were allowed to export duty-free a total of 3,400 products if they fulfilled a set of trade criteria. The point of the creation of the committee, he stated, would be to study the criteria and identify which Egyptian products would best conform to the GSP programme’s standards.
These statements came during the second meeting attended by Sahragti held with Egypt’s Coordinating Secretariat, and attended by representatives from the ECS, the Ministries of Industry and Foreign Commerce, Finance, Tourism, Foreign Investment and Agriculture, in addition to the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce, the Central Bank, and Industrial Modernisation Centre (IMC).