US official: QIZ will not be affected by halted gas exports

Israel welcomes the introduction of new areas into the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) agreement, said an economic official from the US Embassy in Egypt on Wednesday.

The official, who requested anonymity, said that ever since it was raised by former Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid, there has been progress that the US is interested in, but there is no specific timetable for its implementation and no specific governorates have been chosen as of yet.

The official went on to say that the United States believes that “the QIZ and gas deals are two different commercial deals and that one will not be affected by the cancelation of the other.”
He said that under the QIZ deal, Egyptian exports recorded some US$1 billion in 2011, despite the sluggish economy in Egypt and the conditions that resulted from the revolution and despite the weak economic growth in the US.

In a press interview, the official said that the important thing now is for Egypt to take advantage of the QIZ deal that covers most economic sectors of the economy. He added that US aid will provide further support for the training and rehabilitation of the workforce and for the development of education in order to benefit exports.

He said the US is waiting for more Egyptian food and manufactured agricultural products from Egypt within the framework of the QIZ agreement.

He noted that American investors are considering the establishment of projects related to foodstuffs in Egypt, and the export of them to the United States and other markets.

He said he believed there was “no reason to fear the rise of Islamic forces with regard to agreements such as this one as it serves Egyptian interests.”

Meanwhile, official reports prepared by the US Embassy’s Economic Department, said the number of factories that exported to the US under the QIZ framework amounted to 168 in 2011 and that Egypt's total QIZ imports reached US$97.5 million, while exports amounted to US$931 million in fabric, US$7.5 million in food, and US$924 million in apparel.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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