The EU plans to grant Egypt €20 million to finance a new program designed to fund small enterprises, in addition to an allocation of €35 million to four development schemes in agriculture, said James Moran, head of European Union Delegation to Egypt.
“Development of agriculture remains a priority for the EU in this region, and the real support that could be given to agriculture will materialise once the comprehensive agreement is approved”, he explained. This far-reaching agreement will open a brighter future for agriculture once it is sealed, he predicts.
Moran stressed the importance of getting the Egyptian government to accept the Union's request to kick-start negotiations of the new agreement, which can guide the nation into a period of surging foreign investments. With the advantage of free trade in agriculture, expected to be beneficial for both parties, investments coming to Egypt will flourish and volumes of trade exchange will double, he expects.
Attractiveness of investment in Egypt relied heavily on economic policy adopted by the new government, he said, noting that many investors have waited eagerly for a clear-cut economic policy and post-poned decision-making until more details are disclosed.
Negotiations started to tackle the agreement months ago, but were stopped by the former government and deferred to a newly formed one, for fear of taking final stand towards it, Moran said, noting that the Union has already started preliminary, but not serious, negotiations.
Moran added that some articles of a trade agreement signed in 2004 will be amended in the new comprehensive agreement. This 2004 agreement shall remain the basis of mutual trade relations.
Trade exchange surged by 6 per cent to €10.2 billion in 5 months compared to the same period in 2011, and 22 per cent higher than trade figures recorded in 2010. Such an increase was deemed the most optimistic scenario that could never be imagined in light of the crisis hitting both parties, with the revolution in Egypt and the sovereign debt debacle in Europe. Moran remains anxious to explore how deep the mutual relations will become, once conditions are improved and the new agreement is sealed.
He also reiterated the importance of getting Egypt to join EU's programme designed to support Arab Spring countries, noting that Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan have already started to benefit from it. Power vacuum and the absence of a stable government deprived Egypt from launching the programme. Having now a government in charge, UN is ready to carry out the programme next year, he said, predicting agreements to be approved in the next two months.
Source: Al Mal Newspaper- Issue date 9 October 2012, Page 21