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

Egypt not to renew Ro-Ro agreement with Turkey, Egyptian media saysPresident Recep Tayyip ErdoIanand#39s constant criticism of Egyptand#39s 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.andldquoEgypt 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,andrdquo Egyptand#39s Ahram Online news portal said on Monday.

andldquoUsing the Suez Canal for transportation of goods to countries on the Arabian Peninsula would increase the cost by around $2,000 per truck,andrdquo Mustafa YIlmaz, owner of a transportation company in Hatay province on Turkeyand#39s Syrian border, told Todayand#39s 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 yearandldquoThe 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,andrdquo Ahram Online quoted Hwaida Essam Abdel Rahman, deputy assistant minister for foreign affairs for south and eastern Europe, as saying.

YIlmaz, who is a former board member of the Istanbul-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 countriesand#39 transporters from using its facilities and roads, he said.As a political Islamist, ErdoIan felt deeply frustrated when Mohammed Morsi, who is a member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood with which ErdoIan 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 ErdoIanand#39s incessant criticism of Sisi, who is now president of the country, for having toppled Morsi, both countries expelled in November last year each otherand#39s ambassadors by declaring them persona non grata Cairo slammed Turkey for what it called meddling in its internal affairs.Faruk LoIoIlu, a deputy from the main opposition Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP), criticized ErdoIanand#39s attitude towards Sisi in a Twitter message on Tuesday, saying: andquotTrade agreement [with Egypt] has been cancelled.

Our economy and business world pays the price [for ErdoIanand#39s stance]. What does the TuSIAD think about it?andquot The Turkish Industrialists and Businessmenand#39s Association (TuSIAD) is Turkeyand#39s leading business association.

Based on the memorandum of understanding between the two countries, Ro-Ro ships transported trucks between the Turkish ports of Iskenderun 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 Egyptand#39s 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 Egyptand#39s 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, andldquoThe decision was made for political and security reasons and that Egypt is now looking for an alternative line to establish with another country.

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

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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