Customs Union, Egypt discussing free trade zone

The Russia-led Customs Union and Egypt are discussing the possibility of creating a free trade zone.

The Russia-led Customs Union and Egypt are discussing the possibility of creating a free trade zone.

One of the most important results of the negotiations that were held in Moscow is discussion of the issue of an agreement on a free trade zone with the Customs Union, Egyptian Trade, Industry and Investment Minister Mounir Abdel-Nour said at the plenary session of the Russian-Egyptian Commission for Trade, Economic and Scientific and Technical Cooperation in Moscow on Wednesday.

He thanked the Russian side for accepting Egypt's invitation to visit the country in June in order to continue talks on this issue.

Russian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov, the co-chairman of the commission, said after the meeting that this refers to the creation of a free industrial zone for production of Russian farm machinery for Egypt and for other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Considering the mutual interest of both countries in the grain trade, they also discussed the possibility of building grain storage facilities in Egypt.

Abdel-Nour said that, after the last two revolutions in Egypt, a road map has been worked out to ensure political and economic security in the country and create favorable conditions for business.

But Egypt will not be able to meet these goals if it does not get support from other countries, and Russia is at the top of the list of these countries, he said. In the course of the negotiations, Russia expressed a willingness to expand exports to Egypt, particularly of wheat, while Egypt is prepared to develop exports of vegetables and fruit, Abdel-Nour said.

Fyodorov said at the meeting that both countries, following the instructions of their leaders, intend to double their trade turnover within two to three years. Their trade turnover is now about $3 billion.

Fyodorov said that in the course of the negotiations the countries discussed fundamental and strategic issues related to nuclear energy, metallurgy, the aluminum industry and hydropower.

"We resumed work on putting together an agreement on a free trade zone with the Customs Union, on creating a special industrial zone for investments by Russian industry in Egypt," Fyodorov said, adding that Egypt promised to create favorable conditions for Russian investors.

Abdel-Nour said both countries can also expand cooperation in the area of petrochemicals, production of automobiles and furniture, as well as in the area of new types of energy, including renewable energy. Egypt expects Russian investors for the construction of the fifth and sixth lines of the Cairo subway.

Russia and Egypt held active negotiations on a free trade zone until 2011, but then they were suspended, Fyodorov recalled. The most active phase of the resumed negotiations is planned for June this year, after election campaigns in Egypt, he said.

"At that time we will elaborate the figures, topics and sectors that have the greatest potential benefits for Russian and Egyptian producers,' Fyodorov said.

The countries have agreed that the next meeting of the commission will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Abdel-Nour said.

Read more: Russia could sign free trade agreement with New Zealand in 2014>>>

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