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Egypt not to renew Ro-Ro agreement with Turkey, Egyptian media says.

Summary: President Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an's constant criticism of Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi continues to take its toll on Turkey, as Egypt has announced that it will not renew a transit-trade agreement with Turkey.

"Egypt decided that it will not renew a three-year transit-trade agreement with Turkey in the latest evidence of worsening relations between the two countries, Egyptian officials announced on Sunday," Egypt's Ahram Online news portal said on Monday.

"Using the Suez Canal for transportation of goods to countries on the Arabian Peninsula would increase the cost by around $2,000 per truck," Mustafa Yylmaz, owner of a transportation company in Hatay province on Turkey's Syrian border, told Today's Zaman.

When Turkish trucks had to give up on the route via Syria to Jordan and countries on the Arabian Peninsula due to the civil war in Syria, Turkey signed in April of 2012 a memorandum of understanding with Egypt for the establishment of a transit transportation route connected by the Ro-Ro Line. The Ro-Ro Line, which became active at the end of April of 2012 between the two countries, allowed Turkish exporters to bypass the Suez Canal and to keep the increase in their transportation costs in exports to the region at a reasonable level, an increase of $1,000 per truck as compared to the Syrian route. The agreement will reportedly expire in April next year.

"The agreement will not been renewed because Egypt feels that it has already derived all the possible benefits from the agreement, with all aspects being considered," Ahram Online quoted Hwaida Essam Abdel Rahman, deputy assistant minister for foreign affairs for south and eastern Europe, as saying.

Yylmaz, who is a former board member of the ystanbul-based International Transportation Association (UND), said Turkish trucks do not currently face any difficulties in Egypt. He also maintained that, in contrast to reports in the Egyptian media, it was agreements facilitating investments between the two countries that Egypt had cancelled, not the Ro-Ro agreement. As per international law, countries cannot ban other countries' transporters from using its facilities and roads, he said.

As a political Islamist, Erdoy-an felt deeply frustrated when Mohammed Morsi, who is a member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood with which Erdoy-an is ideologically aligned, was toppled by a military coup by then-Egyptian Chief-of-General Staff Sisi in the summer of 2013.

Upon then-Prime Minister Erdoy-an's incessant criticism of Sisi, who is now president of the country, for having toppled Morsi, both countries expelled in November last year each other's ambassadors by declaring them persona non grata. Cairo slammed Turkey for what it called meddling in its internal affairs.

Faruk Loy-oy-lu, a deputy from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), criticized Erdoy-an's attitude towards Sisi in a Twitter message on Tuesday, saying: "Trade agreement [with Egypt] has been cancelled. Our economy and business world pays the price [for Erdoy-an's stance]. What does the TE[pounds sterling]SyAD think about it?" The Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TE[pounds sterling]SyAD) is Turkey's leading business association.

Based on the memorandum of understanding between the two countries, Ro-Ro ships transported trucks between the Turkish ports of yskenderun and Mersin and Alexandria of Egypt.

Turkish trucks taking the Ro-Ro Line to Alexandria traveled by land to another port on the Egyptian Red Sea coast, Safaga for example, to once again take the Ro-Ro Line to a port in Saudi Arabia or Jordan.

The route not only allowed Turkish exporters to reach Saudi Arabia in three-and-a-half days, but also paved the way for easy access to the African market through Egypt.

According to Egypt's English news portal Daily News Egypt, the decision not to renew the agreement with Turkey was taken following a meeting of all the concerned Egyptian parties to the agreement. Turkey will be informed of Egypt's decision by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the news portal said on Monday.

The Daily News Egypt quoted Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, Egyptian minister of trade and industry, as saying to the CBC, a private television channel in Egypt, "The decision was made for political and security reasons and that Egypt is now looking for an alternative line to establish with another country."

Turkey also runs an alternative Ro-Ro Line between yskenderun and the Israeli port of Haifa to transport its exports to countries on the Arabian Peninsula and Jordan.

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Publication:UMCI News (Potomac Falls, VA)
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Oct 29, 2014
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