Egyptian Trade Minister Mohammed Rashid will try to revive a project for a free trade deal with the US when he travels to Washington Sunday.
Rashid, according to press reports, is to meet US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick during his four-day visit, Egyptian-US Chamber of Commerce chairman Moham-med Mansour said.
His meetings in the US will focus on how to boost US investment in Egypt, which according to international surveys has dropped to the bottom of the list of most attractive countries in the region for foreign direct investment.
The United States tops the list of investing countries in Egypt. A recent report issued by the American Embassy in Cairo said that tThe US has invested $3.53 billion in Egypt, mostly in oil, natural gas, information technology (IT) and foodstuffs.
The total stock of U.S. direct investment in petroleum and natural gas sector captures 65% of total US FDI in Egypt. Houston-based Apache Oil Company is the leading foreign investor in Egypt with investments amounting to $2.1 billion as of late 2003.
It should be noted that the idea of a free trade agreement between Egypt and the US had made no progress for several years. US officials claimed Egypt had made insufficient progress in liberalising its trade regime to clinch such a deal, while Egypt insisted US conditions were too harsh.
According to AmCham Egypt, the United States is Egypt's largest single trading partner and the second most important trading bloc after the European Union. The United States is responsible of 16 percent of total Egyptian merchandise imports and receives about 18 percent of total Egyptian merchandise exports. (menareport.com)