Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Egyptians start to see benefits in business co-operation with Israel

In its latest issue, 'Newsweek' quotes Egyptian Minister of Foreign Trade and Industry Rashid Mohamed Rashid as saying that the qualified industrial zone (QIZ) agreement with Israel is a 'huge thing' that has helped change the mind-set in Egypt toward Israel, after 25 years.

Under the QIZ agreement, products made in Egypt with Egyptian labor and comprising a specified proportion of Israeli inputs are exempt from US quotas and customs duties. Israel and Jordan also have a QIZ agreement, and the US hopes to initiate a similar agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Rashid told 'Newsweek' that, as with any reform in Egypt, the importance of the QIZ agreement lay in helping change the mind-set in Egypt.

Also, see this from Egyptian businessmen:

An Israeli company, Delta Galil Textile Industries, has been engaged in profitable business in Egypt since 1995. The company began with 145 employees and now employs nearly 4,600 workers in the Nasr City Free Zone. Labor conditions are excellent and certified at EU standards in all areas, including overtime. Touring the factory, we could not help but notice that the workers exhibited a sense of dignity and joy about their work.
Last year, Egypt and Israel signed a landmark economic accord, the Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) Agreement, that enables goods containing one-third Israeli inputs to be imported into the U.S. tariff-free. Yet in the current atmosphere, Israeli entrepreneurs face great hurdles in finding suitable Egyptian business partners. For the QIZ to bring sound results for Egypt and Israel, the political echelon must lead by example. As a symbolic gesture, President Mubarak should visit Israel, along with a delegation of leading businessmen, to temper the anxieties of the Egyptian business community and warm the cold peace.