Egypt open to free trade talks with US

Cairo's trade minister courts badly needed US investment with a promise Cairo would maintain open markets.

Egypt flag 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Egypt flag 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
WASHINGTON - Egypt's trade minister on Tuesday courted badly-needed US investment with a promise Cairo would maintain open markets, and said the Egyptian government was open to pursuing free trade talks with the United States.
"Let me emphasize that Egypt is still the most competitive business environment in the region, with a domestic market of 85 million people," Egyptian Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Mahmoud Eisa said in a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, a leading business group.

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Eisa said the main purpose of his trip to Washington was to assure the US government and global companies Egypt would continue a business-friendly environment as it writes a new constitution and then holds a presidential election in June.
"No change in policies. No change in anything," Eisa said, referring to the country's economic agenda.

Much of Egypt's economy has been on hold since its military-backed government rejected a $3 billion finance offer from the International Monetary Fund in June.
Investment has largely dried up as a slide in foreign reserves threatens a currency crisis and as the policies of democratically elected government due to replace the army remains uncertain.