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United States of America
14 December 2004
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
December 14, 2004
QUESTION: Egypt , Israel and the United States have signed today a partial free trade deal. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: This is related to something called the Qualified Industrial Zones. It's a very important development. It's something we've been working on for some time. Ambassador Zoellick is attending the signing ceremony today in Egypt. He said, "It is a concrete, practical result of President Bush's plan to promote U.S. trade ties with the Middle East so as to strengthen development, openness and peaceful economic links between Israel and its neighbors. We are pleased that agreement has been reached on these Qualified Industrial Zones. We expect the zones in greater Cairo, Alexandria, the Suez Canal to expand trade and promote investment while serving as a catalyst for stronger ties between Israel and Egypt. We hope, also, that Egypt will focus other economic reform efforts in order to boost its international competitiveness more generally."
This has been a regular subject of discussion with Egypt and with Israel for many months now. The Secretary has been discussing it with his Egyptian and Israeli counterparts over time and we're glad to see that between us and, especially the trade officials involved, that we've been able to bring this all to fruition. And we think it's a very positive thing and offers opportunities to Israelis and Egyptians, in terms of business, jobs, exports and modernization of their economy.