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Egypt minister says ready to talk about deeper trade ties with EU

Wednesday, 12 Feb 2014 | 1:02 PM ET

WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Egypt is ready to discuss deepening its trade agreement with the European Union to include services, the country's Trade and Industry Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said on Wednesday.

EU ambassador to Egypt James Moran said on Monday it was possible to double trade in the next few years if talks on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, which stalled last year, could be restarted.

"What they are requiring is the deepening of the agreement to include services," Abdel Nour, who was meeting with U.S. and international officials in Washington, told reporters.

"We are ready to negotiate this, we have an excellent relationship with the EU. It's a natural market for Egypt's exports and we are very, very close to them."

Egypt's trade with the EU, traditionally its biggest trading partner, reached around 23 billion euros ($31.4 billion) in 2012.

Egypt has had an Association Agreement with the EU since 2004, as well as an agricultural and fisheries products agreement that took effect in 2010.

Abdel Nour said he discussed exports of Egyptian mangoes, citrus fruits and potato seeds during the Washington talks, including with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

However, he said the time was not right for a free trade agreement with the United States.

(Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Sophie Hares)