Egypt and Israel signed their first strategic partnership accord in trade and industry since their peace treaty in 1979.
The deal signed with the United States will lead to the establishment of joint industrial zones in Egypt from where goods will be exported to the United States duty free.
Egyptian Industry and Foreign Trade Minister Mohammed Rashid and Israeli deputy prime minister Ehud Olmert signed the agreement in the presence of Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.
Zoellick met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli trade accord.
The Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs) accord will give Egyptian exporters who use Israeli investment and materials an exemption from U.S. customs and trade quotas.
According to the agreement, Egypt, Israel and the U.S. would cooperate in the Egyptian textile industry and would market the joint products in U.S. markets on the condition that 11.7 percent of the final products would contain Israeli components and 35 percent Egyptian components.
Since 1999, the United States has designated 13 QIZs in Jordan. Exports from Jordan to the United States grew from $31 million in 1999 to $674 million in 2003. Jordan's QIZs are the country's strongest engine of job growth.
Jordan estimates that more than 35,000 jobs have been created within its QIZs. Investment in Jordan's QIZs is currently at between $ 85-100 million and is expected to grow to $ 180 million. Similar benefits are expected to flow from the QIZs in Egypt.
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )