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Egypt wants to double trade with US

 Egypt wants to double trade with the United States in the next four years but is not discussing a free-trade agreement, the Egyptian trade minister said on Sunday, four days before a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Rachid Mohamed Rachid was speaking at a gathering of the American Chamber of Commerce ahead of Obama’s trip to Cairo to make a much-anticipated speech aimed at repairing Washington’s ties with the Muslim world.
“We are not talking about a free-trade agreement anymore,” Rachid told business executives.
“There is a strong wish of both governments to start a new page,” he said. “We want to double trade (with the United States) in the next four years.”
He did not give any trade figures or targets.
U.S. imports from Egypt were down 0.3 percent last year, to $2.4 billion. U.S. goods exports to Egypt the same year were $6.0 billion, and Egypt is currently the 36th-largest export market for U.S. goods.
Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, has been a key partner for Washington in decades of efforts to secure Middle East peace, and is one of the biggest recipients of U.S. military and economic aid.
But the trading relationship lags in comparison. Obama’s predecessor, former President George Bush, negotiated free-trade deals with some other Muslim countries but decided against doing so with Egypt, in part because of concerns over that country’s commitment to democratic reform.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk made a joint statement with Rachid during his visit to Washington this month that said the two sides want to deepen trade ties.
Goods from specified zones in Egypt, known as Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs), already enjoy preferential terms in the U.S. market provided a certain percentage of Israeli goods are used.


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