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Meeting international standards would enhance Egyptian exports, facilitate trade: agricultural counsellor of US embassy - Daily News Egypt

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Meeting international standards would enhance Egyptian exports, facilitate trade: agricultural counsellor of US embassy

Linking farmers to processors and creating business opportunities in the agro-industrial value chain will encourage small and medium enterprises to invest in the agricultural sector Egyptian extra-long and long staple varieties are facing some challenges in world markets. Ali Abdi, the agricultural counsellor of the US embassy, highlighted in an interview with Daily News Egypt …


Linking farmers to processors and creating business opportunities in the agro-industrial value chain will encourage small and medium enterprises to invest in the agricultural sector

Egyptian extra-long and long staple varieties are facing some challenges in world markets.

Ali Abdi, the agricultural counsellor of the US embassy, highlighted in an interview with Daily News Egypt the opportunities of the agriculture cooperation between the USA and Egypt.

Are American companies considering investing in Egypt’s 1.5 million feddan project in the coming period?

Many US agribusinesses already invest in Egypt. Sectors include agricultural equipment, modern irrigation systems, seeds, fertilisers, and other inputs. These firms and others may consider investing in this specific project depending on their respective business circumstances. We understand that the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is planning to support an agribusiness investment forum in Egypt at the end of 2017. This could be a good opportunity to invite investors.

What is your assessment of the 1.5 million feddan project?

It is always encouraging to see more investment in the agricultural sector (both public and private), and there are plenty of opportunities in the value-chain, including in production and processing.

Linking farmers to processors and creating business opportunities in the agro-industrial value chain will encourage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to invest in the agricultural sector as they create job opportunities and support economic growth.

What are the forms of increasing cooperation between Egypt and the US to exchange expertise in agricultural research? 

The United States and Egypt have a long-standing relationship in this area, and we continue to look for more opportunities to grow that relationship.

What is the volume of agricultural exchange between Egypt and the United States in the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year? 

In 2017, from January through July, US exports of agricultural and related products to Egypt were valued at $549m compared to $477m during the same period in 2016.

What are the most prominent crises facing the agricultural sector in Egypt and the problems facing some crops directed to foreign markets? How can they be solved?

Egyptian authorities are best equipped to answer this question. However, I wouldn’t say there are “crises” but rather areas of improvement, and this is not unique to Egypt. For example, standards that are consistent with international practices on the ease of doing business with respect to regulations would enhance Egyptian exports and facilitate trade.

How does the American market view the Egyptian agricultural products, especially after the strawberry crisis of last year? What can we say about this?

The US market remains open for Egyptian exports.

What are the most prominent types of agricultural products that the US imports from Egypt?  

Major agricultural exports to the United States include processed fruits and vegetable, essential oils, and spices.

Are there new Egyptian products that can enter the US market during the coming period? 

A wide range of Egyptian products are exported to the US including processed fruits and vegetables, spices, juices, essential oils, and seafood.

Like the rest of the world, climate change has recently affected some agricultural products in Egypt. Are there specific tips to overcome the crises in the coming period?

This is a global issue, not unique to Egypt or this region. The government of Egypt is best suited to provide specifics on this issue. As requested by the government of Egypt, the US stands ready to share whatever expertise we have in this area.

How can the cost of agricultural production in Egypt be reduced? And what are important new crops that are suitable for Egypt that could have added value for sales in the local and foreign markets?

The Egyptian government and the private sector are best equipped to provide specific examples. Generally speaking, various good agricultural practices can lead to cost saving: handling practices to reduce post-harvest losses, technology, facilitating trade (reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers), and investing in infrastructure (both hard and soft).

Egypt has been recently suffering from a water crisis. What is your vision of the current situation at this level, and what steps can be taken to avoid a crisis?  

Various interventions can be taken through innovation to conserve and manage water usage in the agricultural sector. Some of these practices are already in place, but more can be done.

American cotton has taken a large share of the global market over the past years, but how can the Egyptian crop be developed and improved? How is Egypt doing in textile exports? 

The majority of the cotton produced in Egypt, almost 90 percent, is the extra-long and long staple cotton. The production of medium- and short-staple varieties represent 10 percent of Egypt’s cotton production. The world textile and fabric production from yarn produced from extra-long and long staple cotton represent only 2 percent, while 98 percent of the yarn used in this industry is from the medium and short staple varieties. Therefore, Egyptian extra-long and long staple varieties are facing some challenges in world markets.

Is there any new research on the Egyptian market conducted by the US Department of Agriculture during the current period? On which sectors? 

We work with a variety of organisations in the food and agricultural sectors, including government and private sector entities. We also encourage and support collaborative agricultural research opportunities between US and Egyptian scientists through exchange programmes.

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