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In sign of new ties, Egyptian trade delegation visits Israel for first time in decade

Trade between Israel and Egypt reached $330 million in 2021

Egyptian trade delegation visits Israel, June 20, 2022 (Photo: Manufacturers' Association of Israel)

The tapestry of the Middle East economic-diplomacy is showing an ever closer weave after an Egyptian trade delegation visited Israel last month – the first such visit in a decade.

Accompanied by Amira Oron, Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, the trade delegation comprised 12 leading industrialists and businesspeople in the fields of textiles and clothing. Israeli officials indicated that the visit showed a further warming of ties between Israel and Egypt.

“The partnership between Egypt and Israel, including in the economic sectors, will strengthen business ties between the countries and promote economic growth, prosperity and wellbeing in our region,” Oron said in a statement. 

“I welcome the Egyptian delegation’s visit, which will contribute to the promotion of shared interests for both countries,” she said.

The delegation’s visit was born out of the Qualified Industrial Zone trade-infrastructure agreement between Israel, Egypt and the United States. The U.S. introduced the QIZ concept in 1996, to develop regional economic partnerships that would benefit both the Arab world and Israel. 

Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, became the first country to join the QIZ agreement. Egypt, whose peace treaty with Israel was signed in 1979, only joined the QIZ in 2004. 

The QIZ facilitates the export of duty-free and tax-free products from Egypt to the U.S., as long as 10.5% of the materials or inputs of the Egyptian products originate from Israel.

The Egyptian delegation’s visit echoes a visit to Egypt in May by Israeli trade representatives who attended the QIZ conference in Cairo. 

Egypt is reportedly eager to increase its exports under the QIZ agreement. The country seeks to more than triple its non-petroleum exports revenue from last year’s $32 billion. Egypt has set its sights on exports earnings of $60 billion by 2025 and $100 billion by the end of the decade. 

Egypt currently faces an economic crisis as Russia’s war on Ukraine has strained Egypt’s food supplies. The war has also significantly reduced tourism from Ukraine and Russia. 

“The market in Egypt is developing, and we welcome their willingness to visit, as well as the Egyptian interest in Israeli industry, which represent a further warming of economic ties with Egypt; and we hope to expand cooperation between the countries,” said Ohad Cohen, head of the Foreign Trade Administration at Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry. 

In Israel, the Egyptian delegation met with senior Israeli officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy and Industry, the Manufacturers Association of Israel, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce and the Israel Export Institute. The Egyptians also visited factories and met with representatives of major Israeli companies. 

“The visit of this delegation of businesspeople is part of the strengthening of ties between Israel and Egypt,” said Oded Yosef, deputy director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Middle East division. 

“Economic cooperation has always been a significant component in the promotion of relations, and the QIZ agreement has a special place in this,” Yosef said. “We expect that the visit will lead to the expansion of cooperation within the QIZ’s industrial areas, as well as to the expansion of economic, business, and commercial cooperation between the countries.”

Trade between Israel and Egypt reached $330 million in 2021.

Israeli exports to Egypt included textiles and their associated products (78%), chemicals and chemical industry products (11%) and rubber and plastics (8%), amounting to $120 million earned by Israel. 

Imports from Egypt, on the other hand, included chemicals and chemical industry products (32%), fresh agricultural produce and food products (27%), machines and electrical and mechanical machinery (17%), for a total of $210 million spent by Israel.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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