The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Egypt have signed an agreement to set up a free trade zone between the two countries. The agreement was signed yesterday in Cario by Deputy Minister of Finance and National Economy Dr. Hamad Al-Bazie, and Fakhruddin Ab-Al-Iz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian General Organization for Monitoring Exports and Imports. Detailed deliberations about its provisions in both countries will ensue, prior to the signing of the final agreement at the end of 1999 and its implementation effective January 2000. Dr. Al-Bazie said that the agreement's provisions conform fully with the framework of the Arab program for exchange of trade, and aim at accelerating the reduction of customs duties for goods exchanged between the two countries up to the time when all customs duties are lifted, in 2004.
This reduction in customs duties will be granted only for goods actually produced by companies in the two countries. Some goods have been exempted, such as agricultural goods produced by both countries in the same season, certain vehicles, and all kinds of textiles. Dr. Al-Bazie said that these reductions will be in equal proportions between the two countries over the coming four years. He hoped that the agreement would boost Saudi investment in Egypt, which constitutes 38 percent of total Arab investments, and would increase the volume of bilateral trade exchange.