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6-Regulation: Egypt has not made decision whether to join the WTOGMO complaint



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TITLE:  Egypt clarifies biotech support
SOURCE: The Washington Times, USA, by Jeffrey Sparshott
        http://washingtontimes.com/business/20030627-113008-9788r.htm
DATE:   Jun 28, 2003

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
  "Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, told Egyptian officials he
   was concerned and perplexed by reports that the country might not
   participate in the WTO challenge. 'One of the criteria that ought to be
   used to determine with whom the United States negotiates future FTAs is
   whether a country shares the same vision of the global trading system
   as does the United States,' he said in a letter earlier this month."
----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Egypt clarifies biotech support

Egypt supports U.S. efforts to gain world acceptance and market access
for genetically modified crops, Egypt's top trade official said yesterday.

Youssef Boutros-Ghali, Egypt's foreign-trade minister, clarified his
country's position following Egypt's withdrawal last month from a U.S.-
led case filed with the World Trade Organization.

The case challenges the European Union's moratorium on the sale or
production of new genetically modified crops.

"There is no difference between the two positions [of the United States
and Egypt]. There may be a difference in approach, but there is no
difference in our positions," Mr. Boutros-Ghali said during a meeting
with U.S. businessmen and reporters in Washington.

Egypt's withdrawal, announced in a May 27 letter from Egypt's ambassador
to the European Union, was viewed as a blow to the U.S. case against the
15-nation European Union.

The biotech spat between the United States and the European Union has
been fueled by bitter rhetoric.

The Bush administration has cast the case as a fight for developing
countries that need biotechnology to feed their populations and compete
in world markets. EU officials cite consumer-health and environmental-
safety concerns over biotech.

Egypt had been the only country from Africa to formally support the case.
Argentina and Canada also joined the complaint.

Mr. Boutros-Ghali said Egypt has started consultations with the European
Union on the biotech matter. Similar consultations between the United
States and the European Union broke down last week, prompting the Bush
administration to seek a ruling from the WTO.

Biotech crops, like soybeans, corn and cotton, are genetically modified
to withstand pesticides, resist pests and withstand drought.

The biotech case also was linked to Egypt's bid for a free-trade
agreement with the United States. Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa
Republican, told Egyptian officials he was concerned and perplexed by
reports that the country might not participate in the WTO challenge.

"One of the criteria that ought to be used to determine with whom the
United States negotiates future FTAs is whether a country shares the same
vision of the global trading system as does the United States," he said
in a letter earlier this month.

As Senate Finance Committee chairman, Mr. Grassley is a key voice on
trade issues in the Senate.

Bush administration officials also have retreated from earlier comments
that Egypt is an immediate candidate for a free-trade agreement, though
the change in tack has not been explicitly linked to the biotech issue.

Robert B. Zoellick, U.S. trade representative, said earlier this week
that Egypt had not made sufficient regulatory reforms.

"I'm not going to sugarcoat it for people. Egypt has some work to do,"
Mr. Zoellick said while in the Middle East to lay out a trade plan for
the region.

Egypt has been keen to enter into a free-trade agreement with the United
States, but also is sensitive to economic reality -- the European Union is
its largest export market and trade partner.

Yesterday, Mr. Boutros-Ghali said that Egypt wants to start negotiating
with the United States immediately on a bilateral trade pact.

"We believe the time to commence negotiations for a free-trade agreement
is now," he said.

Egyptian officials also have emphasized that the country is the key to
Mr. Bush's proposed Middle East Free Trade Area, an initiative that would
help integrate the region and tie it economically to the United States.




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