Egypt-Saudi free trade zone project stumbles
The foreign ministers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia have sent back to a committee of experts their plan for the setting up of a free trade zone, after a joint commission meeting late Tuesday.
"An ad hoc committee will study the project in an attempt to reach an agreement", Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal told reporters late Tuesday at the end of a joint commission meeting.
The project is part of a wider plan launched by the Arab League's 22 members in 1998 to set up a free zone and phase out customs barriers by 2007. Fourteen states, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have already slashed customs fees on their trade by 30 percent.
Prince Saud, who co-chaired the meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Amr Mussa, called for the private sector to play a larger role in increasing bilateral trade between the two countries, which he said fell in 1999 to $584 million, down by $133 million compared to 1998.
In contrast, Saudi investments in Egypt amount to $1.15 billion, according to Egypt's ambassador to Riyadh, Hilmi Budeir. ¯ (AFP, Riyadh)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)