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* Egypt makes major tariff cuts
CAIRO: Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif's government announced Wednesday sweeping tariff cuts on most imports.
"This is the first major move by the government of Ahmed Nazif," Finance Minister Yussef Boutros-Ghali said.
The tariff cuts - from 14.9 percent to 9 percent - will see state revenue drop by about three billion Egyptian pounds ($460 million) over the next 18 months, Boutros-Ghali said.
However, the cuts are expected to be counterbalanced by a resulting stimulus of the economy, leading to what Boutros-Ghali predicted would be an additional 1 percent to 1.25 percent growth over the same period.
The tariff cuts apply to all imported goods, with the exception of alcoholic drinks, tobacco products and cars with an engine size greater than 2,000 cc.


* Jordan's duty free exports to U.S. up 29 percent

BEIRUT: Total exports from Jordan's Qualified Industrial Zones in the Zaqra governorate so far have increased by 29 percent compared to last year, reaching 94,220,000 Jordanian dinars ($133 million). In August alone, exports reached 17,463,000 Jordanian dinars, marking the highest value in 2004.
Jordan's Qualified Industrial Zones were established to increase exports to the U.S. market as they are duty free when exported to the North American country.


* Morocco sees significant surge in tourist numbers
BEIRUT: Morocco saw a 19 percent surge in tourist arrivals during the first seven months of the year, reaching 3.16 million tourists.
According to figures released by the Moroccan Tourism Ministry, French tourists ranked first with 683,288, followed by Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany.
In July alone, 1.24 million tourists visited Morocco compared to 1 million during the same month last year - a 17 percent growth.


* Turkey mulls including Cyprus in customs union
ANKARA: Turkey is considering steps to include Cyprus into a customs union between Ankara and the European Union, but such a move would not amount to a recognition of the Greek Cypriot government, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said Tuesday.
"There is work under way on this issue. But this would never mean a political recognition," Gul told the NTV news channel in an interview.
Turkey, which is not an EU member, entered into a customs union with the pan-European bloc in 1995.
The divided island of Cyprus, represented by its internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot side, joined the EU on May 1 but has so far been excluded from participation in the overall EU customs union with Turkey because it has no formal diplomatic ties with Ankara.
"Everybody knows that political recognition is out of the question but we have some responsibilities on other issues," Gul said, adding that the Greek Cypriots had already lifted restrictions on the circulation of Turkish goods on their territory.
Brussels has put pressure on Ankara to resolve the issue.

Beirut,09 13 2004
The Daily Star
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