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Egypt MPs call for end to free trade deal with Turkey

Turkish products on shelves [Mohamed Farag/Anadolu Agency]
Turkish products on shelves [Mohamed Farag/Anadolu Agency]

Egyptian MPs have again asked the government to cancel a 2015 free trade agreement with Turkey which allows Turkish products into Egypt without custom duties or tax fees.

"The Turks use the agreement to flood the market with a lot of cheap and substandard products," Farag Amer, head of the industry committee, said.

"[They] cause a lot of harm to counterpart local industries, particularly in the areas of reinforced steel, wood, paper and textile products."

Amer also complained that Turkey has been hostile towards Egypt.

On 2 January the Turkish parliament approved sending Turkish troops to Libya to support the UN-backed government based in Tripoli.

Egypt and its close allies Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain, who support Haftar's rival Tobruk-based government, were outraged.

Senior Egyptian officials called for severing economic ties with Turkey.

Shortly after the Turkish announcement, speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives told Egypt's parliament said he may call on the Egyptian army to intervene militarily if foreign intervention took place in Libya.

His comments were met with a standing ovation. Egypt's pro-regime press, actors and singers had for weeks been supporting Egypt's plans to intervene in Libya.

READ: Libya's Haftar defies cease-fire, launches attacks

At the time, activists suggested this was just sabre-rattling, given that Turkey is the second biggest G20 importer of Egyptian goods, and that threats were to promote military rule and for domestic consumption, rather than a solid fact.

In 2018 trade exchange between Egypt and Turkey hit $2 billion.

The threats have been ongoing. At the beginning of January, Egyptian MPs called on the government to boycott Turkish products in response to "blatant transgressions by the Turkish government in the region and its attempts to plunder the wealth of the Middle East, spread chaos, and destabilise the Middle East."

The state-run press reported that a campaign to boycott Turkish products had already been launched.

Staunch government supporter and TV presenter Ahmed Moussa called on Egyptians to stop buying Turkish products.

Relations between the two countries became strained following the ouster of Egypt's first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 when Turkey offered prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood – who are considered a terror group in Egypt – refuge.

Egypt asked the Turkish ambassador to leave the country after Erdogan called on Egyptian authorities to free Morsi.

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