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Sunday, 5 March 2017

Sisi and Merkel talk refugee agreement, development aid, automotive directive

Inching closer towards a Turkey-style migration agreement with the EU: German premier Angela Merkel promised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi additional aid to “help to thwart migration to Europe” through Egypt during her two-day state visit, according to Bloomberg. The EU has offered Turkey some EUR 6 bn in aid for refugees and has also offered to support Egypt through its refugee plight.

Merkel also pledged some USD 500 mn in funding through to 2018 to support economic reforms and SME development, Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr announced on Thursday during the Egyptian-German Business Forum — which saw CEOs of major German firms in attendance. The amount, which will be coordinated with the IMF, will be received “in the form of grants and concessional funds,” a top government official tells Reuters.

She also assured El Sisi that German companies are eager to expand their investments in Egypt, encouraged by recent economic reform measures. Talks between the two also looked at cooperation on regional stability, countering terrorism, and reinforcing the role of German development agencies under the terms of a 1959 cooperation agreement signed between the two countries. As we noted last week, Merkel views investment as a crucial means to help stem inflows of refugees in host nations. Merkel also extended a formal invitation to El Sisi to attend an African development summit in Berlin next June, according to an emailed statement from Ittihadiya.

Merkel wants to kill the automotive directive? Merkel reportedly voiced her objections to the automotive directive,which she says violates the terms of Egypt’s trade agreements with EU countries and could compromise future dealings and investments, according to sources close to the German delegation. Speaking to Al Mal, they added that members of the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) have reportedly promised Merkel that the directive — which would give tax breaks to Egyptian manufacturers and protect them against unfair advantages now enjoyed by EU, Turkish, and Moroccan imports — will not be issued until they’ve conducted a comprehensive study to ensure that none of its clauses are in direct conflict with standing agreements. European car makers and their local importers had expressed similar thoughts on the bill in a letter to the European commission last week, but FEI members had then said it was unlikely for the government to move based on European reactions to the bill. The automotive directive, which is currently before the House of Representatives’ Industry Committee and should be heading into a plenary session by mid-March, has been delayed by a lobbying war pitting auto assemblers and auto importers against each other.

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