Egypt must "stabilize and clarify" its trade regulations to fall in line with the economic association agreement it initialed in January, said European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy Saturday, March 24, during a visit to Egypt.
"It is clear that businesses in this country face a certain number of regulatory obstacles," Lamy said, drawing attention in particular to the question of customs. He urged Egypt to make its commercial laws "more stable and transparent".
Egypt is currently experiencing economic stagnation, due notably to a shortage of dollars. But analysts have also pointed out the vagueness of trade and business regulations as one of the main causes of the crisis.
Lamy explained that the agreement, which is to be signed soon by Egypt and the EU, is based on three pillars: commercial liberalization, political cooperation and aid to development.
On March 26, Egypt and the EU initialed an association agreement that had been under negotiation for more than five years. The agreement now needs to be signed, and then ratified by Egypt and the 15 EU members.
The European Union has been concluding association agreements with its Mediterranean neighbors as part of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership program, launched in 1995. The EU is Egypt's main economic partner and accounts for nearly half of its foreign trade.
During his visit, Lamy also met Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Ebeid, and is due to meet with President Hosni Mubarak. — (AFP, Cairo)
© Agence France Presse 2001
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