Kassem: Egyptian textiles producers should not be threatened by liberalization
CAIRO: Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid said Thursday the free trade agreement with Turkey entering implementation this month is expected to boost bilateral trade from LE 1 billion in 2005 to LE 5 billion in the next three years.
The agreement allows for the gradual reduction in tariffs on raw materials, agricultural and industrial goods beginning in 2007 and until 2020.
Rachid and the Turkish Ambassador Safak Gokturk opened the first annual conference for implementation of the agreement, bringing together 500 businessmen from both sides.
The agreement calls for a 75 percent reduction in tariffs on Turkish raw materials in 2007 and 25 percent in 2008. Intermediary products will see a 10 percent annual reduction in tariffs beginning in 2008 and 15 percent until 2014. Finished goods will see a 5 percent reduction in 2010 and 2011 and 15 percent until 2017, while the Turkish automotive industry will be granted a 10 percent annual reduction from 2011 to 2020.
In exchange, Turkey agreed to the immediate elimination of all duties on Egyptian industrial products and the gradual increase in quotas of Egyptian agricultural products exempt from duties, now in the 32 percent to 45 percent range.
Addressing Egyptian textiles manufacturer’s concerns Mohamed Kassem, Textile Industries Chamber vice chairman, said he expected further liberalization of trade with Turkey will increase competition on the local market and help modernize Egyptian industries.
“It’s important that Egyptian producers are not threatened by liberalization and work to raise the quality of their products, Kassem said. “Because that is what will guarantee their prosperity in the future, not customs.
Kassem added producers in Turkey were also concerned about opening their market to European exports, but over time, the policy helped improve the quality of Turkish products.
In June, the Egyptian Parliament ratified the agreement, the mere signing of which has pushed Egyptian exports up 44 percent in the first seven months of 2006, according to Ministry of Trade and Industry figures. The agreement was signed in December, 2005 after seven months of negotiation capping six rounds of talks begun in 1998.
Turkey’s total bilateral trade reached $220 billion in 2006, of which exports accounted for $86 billion. During his visit to Cairo in January, Turkish Trade Minister Kursad Tuzman said government efforts to provide outsourcing opportunities in attractive places like Egypt aim to raise the country’s export volume to $100 billion in 2007.