In November 2010, the EU and Egypt signed a protocol establishing a dispute settlement mechanism for the trade parties of the Association Agreement. Egypt has not yet ratified the protocol. The agreement covers trade in industrial products, including fish and other seafood, and processed agricultural products. In addition, some EFTA states and Egypt have bilateral agreements on basic agricultural products, which are part of the free trade area`s creation instruments. Egypt is a signatory to several multilateral trade agreements: trade in processed agricultural products is enshrined in a protocol to the main agreement (Article 4, point b) and Protocol A). In addition, trade in agricultural commodities is covered by three bilateral agreements negotiated separately between Iceland (the agricultural agreement between Iceland and Egypt), Norway (an agricultural agreement between Norway and Egypt) and Switzerland/Liechtenstein (an agricultural agreement between Switzerland and Egypt), on the one hand, and Egypt on the other. These agreements, which are part of the instruments for creating the free trade area (Article 4, point d), provide for tariff concessions. The agreement provides for effective access to the industrial market in the form of tariffs and rules of origin, which virtually creates EU parity for EFTA exports to Egypt. Until 1 January 2020, almost all industrial products originating in EFTA states will have duty-free access to Egypt (Article 6 and Appendix IV). Egyptian exports to EFTA countries are exempt from tariffs once the agreement comes into force. The system was originally based on a network of free trade agreements with individual protocols of origin.
The original protocols are replaced by a reference to the Regional Agreement on Preferential Rules of Origin (EMP), established in 2011, which aims to create a more homogeneous framework for original protocols. Under the George Bush administration in 2003, the U.S. Trade Representative reportedly “punished” Egypt by suspending all openings of a free trade agreement when Egypt withdrew its support for a U.S. dispute with the European Union over trade in genetically modified plants at the WTO. This lasted until the end of 2004, when openings resumed. However, the United States froze talks on the free trade agreement after making accusations of fraud and corruption in Egypt`s December 2005 elections, which have not resumed since then. The agreement covers trade in all fish and other seafood [Article 4, point c), and Appendix II]. EFTA states grant duty-free access to imports of all Egyptian fisheries products.
With regard to EFTA exports to Egypt, the agreement provides for the reduction of tariffs within the quotas from the time the agreement enters into force. Quotas for certain products will be abolished six years after the agreement comes into force. The parties intend to completely eliminate tariffs on all fish and other seafood within fourteen years of the agreement`s entry into force.