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Last Updated:[23-07-2010 03:01:55 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Mercosur-Egypt FTA Likely to Exclude Sensitive Poultry Trade

tradenews The Free Trade Agreement between Mercosur and Egypt is expected to label poultry in the sensitive category as the latter fears it may adversely impact the domestic industry. According to the Al-Masry Al-Youm, an Egyptian daily, Egypt has asked for poultry products and other food commodities to be included in a list of sensitive products on which duties could not be reduced.

The trade deal is likely to be concluded with the fifth round of negotiations at the sidelines of Mercosur summit in Buenos Aires at the end of this month which the Trade Minister of Egypt Rachid Mohamed Rachid would be participating. The Mercosur is a free trade region of South America comprising of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

A reliable source from the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry is reported to have informed the Egyptian daily that it had agreed with Mercosur to implement the deal in a phased manner by setting up five categories for specific commodities and products.

The first category, which includes intermediate goods and raw materials, will be tariff-free from the effective date of the FTA. The second group's duties will be removed over a period of four years, the third one's over eight years, and the fourth over ten years. However, the time period for the fifth category has yet to be worked out as it includes highly sensitive products, and feared to negatively affect the local businesses.

Egypt is understood to have requested Mercosur to include textiles, clothes, construction materials, and engineering and chemical products among the first category. Egypt's main exports are petroleum, aluminium, raw cotton and leather, whereas it mainly imports poultry, oils, sugar, soya beans and meat. Once the accord is signed, it will become the second FTA that the Mercosur is signing with a non-Latin American nation after Israel.

Last month, Evandro Didonet, the head of the Department of Foreign Negotiations at the Brazilian foreign office (Itamaraty) observed that the FTA with Egypt was "of the greatest importance", as Egypt was one of the countries with the greatest weight in the Arab world. In his evaluation, it should grant "great visibility" to the South American bloc and open a "gateway" into the Middle East and North Africa.

By Jose Roy

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