Egypt to ask US for clear position on economic assistance

Egypt will ask the US government to clarify its stance on support for the Egyptian economy, Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Mahmoud Issa has said, adding that the US is aware of how much it has benefited from its strategic partnership with Egypt.

Issa, who will visit the US on Sunday, said the decision making process in the US tends to take time since it depends on data analysis, but the current situation in Egypt requires swifter action.

He told state news agency MENA that he will ask the US to state what sort of aid it intends to give Egypt.

Decision makers in the US are still waiting to see how the situation will turn out in Egypt, he said.

In December Egyptian security forces raided offices of at least 17 NGOs, including three American groups. The US said it was "deeply concerned" about the raids, and raised the specter of clamping down on funding to Egypt's military.

Asked about the Qualifying Industrial Zone (QIZ) agreement, Issa said that the agreement has been useful to Egypt economically, and it helped Egypt make US$1 billion last year, while Israel made only $100 million.

QIZ are designated geographic areas within Egypt. Companies in the zones are granted duty free access to US markets, provided they have an Israeli input of 10.5 percent.

Asked if the ongoing trial of former President Hosni Mubarak was related to the fact that Arab countries have not granted the aid they promised Egypt after the 25 January revolution, Issa said, “We find it strange that this assistance has been delayed, but we have no explanation for that,” adding that there is no connection between calls for pardoning Mubarak trial and the delay.



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