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Monday, 19 June 2017

Kabil postpones meeting with EU officials over automotive directive

Kabil postpones talks with EU officials on automotive directive: Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil has postponed a planned visit to Brussels during which he was expected to discuss the EU’s concerns about the proposed automotive directive, EU Mission Chief to Egypt Ivan Surkoš tells Al Mal. The local press had picked up an announcement by Surkoš last week that a meeting to discuss the automotive industry with EU officials was in the cards. Surkoš had said last month that the bill, which gives incentives to Egyptian car assemblers who go further up the value chain into manufacturing, would violate the terms of Egypt’s trade agreements with the EU. European car makers and local importers of their goods had complained to the European Commission and have spearheaded an effort to derail the bill in the House of Representatives. The Trade and Industry Ministry has been trying to push the legislation along by recently forming a committee to look into a compromise that would leave both parties happy.

Other topics we expect would have been on the agenda include the Exporters Registry, which the EU had said it would pressure Egypt to abandon. The registry places additional quality control measures for companies looking to export to Egypt. Kabil’s meeting with the EU has yet to be rescheduled.

News that Kabil was postponing his trip came as word emerged that the European Union will raise its ceiling on aid to Egypt to EUR 600 mn from EUR 450 mn. The decision came during negotiations for a new three-year EU-Egypt Partnership framework agreement, the head of the Investment and International Cooperation Ministry’s Egyptian-EU partnership unit, Gamal Bayoumi, tells Al Masry Al Youm. He added that it was likely that the aid be increased to EUR 660 mn “in the near future.” We could actually expect the aid to be disbursed as one lump sum payment, according to Bayoumi. We noted back in March that the government was making headway in setting a strategic partnership framework after the prior agreement expired last year. That agreement had set poverty alleviation and improving the business environment as priorities for aid with Egypt.

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