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welcome

Wednesday, March 9, 2005 - 7:00pm

Washington, D.C.
March 10, 2005

His Excellency Minister Rachid, Ambassador Fahmy, Dr. Helmy, Ambassador Welch, distinguished guests from the U.S. and Egyptian governments, delegates from the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to the United States Chamber of Commerce and to the International Hall of Flags. My name is Tom Donohue, and I am the President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

I would like to begin by thanking the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt and its 40-plus delegates who have joined us to host this luncheon.

In addition, I would like to acknowledge the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce and BG Egypt and BG North America for their roles in today's event.

It has been some time since the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt have partnered to bring such a high-profile and important event to our headquarters here in Washington. As some of you may recall, we were fortunate to host President Mubarak in April of 2001.

On that occasion, we witnessed the signing of three agreements that established a significant new commercial relationship between Egyptian and American companies. That day, we also focused attention on the sustained and committed relationship our two nations have shared for decades.

As noted by the current administration and many keen observers of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship, the United States and Egypt have been and remain the strongest of allied partners. On many occasions the two nations have worked together to promote and implement policies that reinforce the principles of peace and stability in a region known for its volatility.

Commenting in an editorial published this past weekend, former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, Frank Wisner, described the relationship between our two countries as "invaluable" and cited the continued history of "partnership" between the U.S. and Egypt. We share this sentiment. Our partnership will continue to serve as an important avenue for greater progress and stability.

The relationship between the two countries also transcends the realm of politics. Today, Egypt and the U.S. are active commercial partners as well. The United States is Egypt's number one single trading partner. The United States supplies some 16 percent of total Egyptian merchandise imports. In turn, the U.S. receives nearly 18 percent of total Egyptian merchandise exports.

This commercial relationship has been framed and solidified with agreements ranging from a bilateral investment treaty to a textile and apparel agreement to a Trade and Investment Frame Work Agreement.

As I remarked in 2001 during the event with President Mubarak, we know that stronger economies and economic relations are indispensable to lasting peace. It is my hope that today's event will offer a renewed sense of commitment to economic engagement, democracy, and peace.

With that said, I would like to introduce Lieutenant General Daniel W. Christman, Senior Vice President of the Chamber's International Division. Dan will preside over today's event.