European Union negotiators have initialled a deal to liberalise trade in most farm and fishery products with Egypt, the most important Middle East market for EU produce, the European Commission said on Friday.
The agreement will give EU exporters free and immediate access to the Egyptian market for around 90 percent of agriculture and fisheries products, it said in a statement.
Egypt will continue to apply existing conditions to imports of tobacco, wines and spirits and pig meat but will halve its duties on confectionery, chocolate, pasta and bakery products.
EU exports of these products to Egypt were worth almost 600 million euros ($942 million) between 2005 and 2007, compared with an equivalent 540 million euros of Egyptian exports to EU markets over the same period, it said.
In return, the EU market will be opened to all products except for a list of items considered "most sensitive" and for which a certain level of protection -- via import duties or tariff-rate quotas -- will be maintained.
Those include tomatoes, cucumbers, artichokes, courgettes, grapes, garlic, strawberries, rice, sugar, processed products with high sugar content, as well as processed tuna and sardines.
"This agreement should make it possible to strengthen European exporters' position on the Egyptian market, which is the most important market in the Middle East," it said.
Egypt's market was also expanding in size due to strong demographic growth, it said. The preliminary deal would "form the basis of a future agreement, subject to completion of both sides' internal procedures", the statement added.
Last Mod: 04 Temmuz 2008, 16:24