Israel, US change terms for Egyptian exports to US

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CAIRO, Oct 8 (Reuters) Israel and the United States have accepted Egypt's request to reduce the minimum Israeli input required for goods Egypt can export to the United States on preferential terms, Israel's ambassador to Egypt said today.

Under a special trade agreement, designed to strengthen business ties and promote peace in the Middle East, US duty and quota restrictions are waived on Egyptian goods containing at least the minimum percentage of Israeli components -- for example buttons and zippings in clothing.

Ambassador Shlomo Cohen told reporters the minimum percentage would be 9.25 per cent, instead of the 11.7 per cent set when the three countries signed a Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) agreement in 2004.

The agreement applies only to factories in the specified industrial zones but the list of areas eligible has expanded over the years. Egypt's textilke and clothing exports to the United States have risen sharply since the deal.

Egypt has been pressing for a reduction in the percentage so that producers find it easier to meet the conditions and do not need to buy so much from more expensive Israeli factories.

Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Eli Yishai will visit Egypt tomorrow to sign an agreement on the percentage with Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid. He is also expected to see President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

REUTERS TB AS0054

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