Merchants decry trade pact with Mercosur

Egyptian importers and exporters have raised objections to a trade agreement signed beteen the government and the Mercosur trade bloc–which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay–saying the agreement favors the latter.

Nevertheless, the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry says it will sign the agreement next month.

“The Mercosur countries are among the biggest producers of foodstuffs,” said Tarek Tawfik, head of the Egyptian Chamber of Food Manufacturers. “This agreement will serve to put us on par with them.”

“The agreement’s balance of trade is 70 percent in favor of the Mercosur group,” complained Egyptian poultry importer Ahmed Saqr. “We export US$80 million worth of goods to Brazil, while importing US$450 million worth of goods from Brazil.”

“Even if the government exempted us from customs duties, Mercosur countries are known for raising their prices,” he added, saying that the government appeared to be signing the agreement for “unknown political reasons.”

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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