Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil presented Egypt’s trade policies and economic reform programme on Tuesday at Egypt’s 4th Policy Trade Review meetings in Geneva, which are running on 20-22 February, the ministry announced in a statement.
Kabil stressed on Egypt’s full commitment to the multilateral trading system and the importance of conserving the global trading system and preventing unfair protective measures in international trade, the ministry said.
“Egypt strongly believes in the role of trade agreements on the bilateral and regional level to strengthen free trade,” the minister said.
Egypt is a founding member of the WTO and an active member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), an agreement Egypt signed in 1970 to promote international trade by reducing trade barriers.
Kabil highlighted the importance of African economic integration and negotiations for an African free trade agreement, in addition to consolidating the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA).
On trade, he said that Egypt targets bringing the trade of goods and services as a percentage of GDP to 45 percent by 2020, up from 33.5 percent in 2016, and the current account deficit to 3 percent of GDP.
On industry, the minister highlighted the government's 2020 industrial development and foreign trade strategy, which targets increasing annual industrial growth by 8 percent and increasing the contribution of manufacturing to GDP to 21 percent from 18 percent, in addition to increasing exports by an annual 10 percent.
The strategy focuses on five pillars: developing the industrial sector, developing small, medium and micro enterprises, boosting Egyptian exports, focusing on education and technical training, and institutional development.
The country’s first industrial investment map was also launched, with 4,800 opportunities in industrial sectors nationwide, Kabil told WTO member states.
Kabil also highlighted the three main pillars of the country’s economic reform programme: achieving macroeconomic stability, undertaking structural reforms, and consolidating the social safety net.
This is in addition to legislative measures including the civil service law, the investment law, the import registry law, and industrial permits laws.
Predictions are that economic growth in the current fiscal year 2017/18 will range between 5.3 percent and 5.5 percent, compared with 4.8 percent last fiscal year.
Kabil highlighted the decrease of primary deficit to 1.8 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2016/17 from 3.5 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2015/16.
Inflation is expected to decrease to less than 10 percent by 2020, the statement said.
“Egypt realises the size of the challenges it faces on the way to achieving sustainable development, namely the problems of unemployment and inflation,” Kabil said.
The third review of Egypt's trade policy was held in 2005.
“In order to providing greater transparency and understanding of the trade policies and practices of member countries, the WTO acts as a forum for the periodic review of member countries’ trade policies,” according to the ministry’s Trade Agreements Sector website.
The process consists of the WTO Secretariat submitting a review of the country’s trade policies and the government also presents its own report about the matter.