The U.S. and Egyptian governments agreed today to work to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation, trade and investment. The implementation of the steps discussed by the two governments will lay the basis for a free trade framework between the United States and Egypt. The measures build upon over 25 years of ongoing initiatives to support Egypt's economic development. The two governments agreed on the value of private sector contribution to economic policy dialogue and will seek a mechanism to continue it. Cooperation in these areas is reflective of the vital partnership between the United States and Egypt in promoting peace and security in the Middle East.
The two countries recognize the importance of free market economies and private sector initiatives as a catalyst for economic growth and prosperity. The United States applauds Egypt's efforts to modernize its intellectual property rights regime, privatize such key sectors as telecommunications and to further liberalize its services sector. The United States and Egypt reaffirm their commitment to removing obstacles to closer economic relations and to increasing efforts to create an open and predictable environment for trade and investment.
The United States welcomed Egypt's decision to implement the World Trade Organization (WTO) Customs Valuation Agreement and for taking first steps to adhere to the WTO Agreement on Basic Telecommunications and the WTO Information Technology Agreement. Both governments explored the benefits of committing to intellectual property rights agreements in the World Intellectual Property Rights Organization and adhering to other plurilateral agreements.
The United States and Egypt also agreed on the importance of strengthening cooperation in the WTO, where Egypt plays an increasingly important leadership role with our partners from the developing world. The governments directed their respective trade ministers to actively pursue cooperation, including the realization of a successful launch of multilateral trade negotiations this year. The two governments agreed that an agenda could be developed that would be mutually advantageous to partners at all levels of development. Central to these new negotiations is progress in agriculture, an area where Egypt and the United States share common concerns.
The two sides have agreed to begin discussions for initiating the process of establishing a framework for free trade and investment. The bilateral council established under the 1999 U.S.-Egypt Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) will be revitalized and will be a primary means for achieving this objective. TIFAs have been an important means by which countries such as Mexico have undertaken the steps needed to prepare for a Free Trade Agreement with the United States.