Possibility of free trade agreement between Egypt, US was one of the most prominent files receiving support from Egyptian business community, says Mohanna
Egypt’s trade exchange with the United States rose to $7.54bn in 2018, according to latest US Census Bureau data, marking 34.16% increase compared to 2017.
In 2018, Egypt’s exports increased by 26.93%, while its imports rose by 51.77%. The US surplus with Egypt was $2.58bn.
Egypt ranked 53rd among the United States’ top trade partners through the current period. In the same period one year ago, Egypt ranked 58th.
The top five US exports to Egypt by value in 2018, were soybeans, corn, coal, briquettes, scrap iron, steel, and petroleum gases, other gaseous hydrocarbons. They accounted for 43.71% of total exports to Egypt.
While the value of the top five categories of US imports from Egypt include oil, gasoline, other fuels, men’s or boys’ slacks, suits, not knit, sweaters, pullovers, vests, knit or crocheted, and women’s or girls’ suits, not knit, accounting for 52.7% of all inbound shipments.
According to Omar Mohanna, chairperson of the Egypt-US Business Council, the possibility of a free trade agreement between Egypt and US was one of the most prominent files receiving support from the Egyptian business community.
Tarek Tawfik, chairperson of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Egypt, said that starting negotiations on the free trade agreement will contribute toward enhancing the Egyptian trade system through fixing the process of specifications, customs, and eliminating of impeding measures, therefore, the agreement will enhance the competition and the development process.
However, a US Department of State official, told Daily News Egypt earlier that a free trade agreement between the two countries is not currently on the table, adding, “We are aware of the importance of this file for the Egyptian side and we want to support and encourage it, but we cannot seriously think about it unless the Egyptian government, for its part, removes many of the obstacles that prevent this.”
“Enforcing property rights and removing tariff barriers are perquisites to a free trade agreement,” he explained.
Moreover, the source pointed out that some obstacles which hinder initiating the debate on the free trade file are the customs. He pointed out that US companies greatly suffer from the customs’ bureaucracy.
Looking more closely at US exports to Egypt:
- Soybeans rose 219.22% compared to last year to $1.16bn.
- Corn rose 929% compared to last year to $322.58m.
- Coal, briquettes rose 50.15% compared to last year to $273.23m.
- Scrap iron, steel rose 121.54% compared to last year to $261.75m.
- Petroleum gases, other gaseous hydrocarbons rose 8.05 percent compared to last year to $188.95m.
Looking more closely at US imports from Egypt:
- Oil rose 184.44% compared to last year to $458.5m.
- Gasoline, other fuels rose 1105.87% compared to last year to $363.95m.
- Men’s or boys’ slacks, suits, not knit rose 11.77% compared to last year to $198.58m.
- Sweaters, pullovers, vests, knit or crocheted rose 34.59% compared to last year to $157.9m.
- Women’s or girls’ suits, not knit rose 2.36% compared to last year to $128.81m.