Egypt, Russia upbeat as Eurasian Economic Union free trade talks enter new round in Q1

Egypt expressed optimism about the prospect of a free trade deal with the (Russia-led) Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) member countries as they will launch a new round of talks.

Egyptian Trade Minister Nevine Gamea said on Thursday she was pleased with progress in negotiations with the EAEU and predicted the fourth round of talks would be held in Moscow in the first quarter of 2021.

Gamea made her remarks after meeting with Andrei Slepnev, Minister in charge of Trade of the Eurasian Economic Commission and his accompanying delegation, who are visiting Cairo to prepare for the upcoming ministerial-level fourth round of talks.

Egypt is putting the EAEU free trade deal at the top of its wish list, the Egyptian minister said.

The free trade comes in implementation of an agreement reached between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and head of the Eurasia economic commission Tigran Sargsyan during talks held in Moscow in October 2018.

The talks took up the issues of customs cooperation, trade movement and rules of origin along with competition and prevention of monopoly.

The EAEU, which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kygryzstan, and Russia covers the bulk of the Eurasian land mass and is geographically placed between the European Union and China. The EAEU has a population of some 183 million and a GDP of some US$5 trillion.

Earlier, Slepnev told Gamea in February in a phone call that “the Union has very serious political support for the future Free Trade Agreement between the EAEU and Egypt. Moreover, we generally regard your country as a kind of gateway to the African continent,”

“Therefore, despite all the difficulties associated with the virus and economic volatility, I think it is in our mutual interests to give impetus to negotiations and bring them to a successful conclusion in foreseeable future.”

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