The European Union wants to restart talks with Egypt over a wider free trade deal that could help double the value of commercial exchanges in the next few years, the EU ambassador to Cairo said on Monday.
His comments signal the EU's wish to safeguard economic ties with Egypt, despite Western misgivings about its political evolution since the army overthrew elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July following mass protests against him.
"Our offer for a far-reaching Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) remains on the table," EU envoy James Moran told an investment conference in the Egyptian capital.
"We doubled trade in the six-year period 2004 to 2010. We believe we can do it again and double it again over the next few years if we get these talks under way."
Egypt's trade with the EU, traditionally its biggest trading partner, reached around 23 billion euros ($31.4 billion) in 2012, but initial data showed it dropped a little last year, Moran told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.
Egypt has had an Association Agreement with the EU since 2004, as well as an agricultural and fisheries products agreement that took effect in 2010.