Egypt Rejoins International Olive Council

The IOC welcomed Egypt back into the organization and said it would work with government officials and producers to invest in the country's strengthening olive and olive oil sectors.

May 16, 2018 2:45 PM EDT
By Daniel Dawson

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After a one year absence, Egypt has offi­cially rejoined the International Olive Council (IOC).

They did so by for­mally sign­ing onto the International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives of 2015 in New York City ear­lier this month. Egypt had pre­vi­ously been a mem­ber of the IOC from 1964 until 2017 when its mem­ber­ship was revoked for fail­ing to sign the agree­ment.

The move was applauded by Abdellatif Ghedira, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the IOC, who said that Egypt’s mem­ber­ship to the IOC is impor­tant, espe­cially in terms of expand­ing its olive and olive oil pro­duc­tion sec­tors.

Last month Ghedira met with Agriculture and Land Reclamation Minister Abdel Mon’em el Bana in Cairo to dis­cuss the invest­ment plan. As part of the agree­ment, Egypt will receive finan­cial grants to sup­port olive grow­ers, includ­ing funds for an ini­tia­tive to plant 1.5 mil­lion trees in Egypt’s west­ern desert.

Egypt is cur­rently the largest pro­ducer of table olives in the world and the ninth largest pro­ducer of olive oil. Olive oil pro­duc­tion grew by 21 per­cent last year and is expected to grow by another 25 per­cent in the com­ing year.


Hishem el Hossary, the under­sec­re­tary of the com­mit­tee of agri­cul­ture, irri­ga­tion, food secu­rity and ani­mal health, said that Egypt’s mem­ber­ship in the IOC had ben­e­fited the country’s olive oil indus­try immensely by improv­ing the phys­i­cal and chem­i­cal prop­er­ties of Egyptian olive oil.

He pointed to recent awards for Egyptian olive oil at the Agency for the Valorization of Agricultural Products’ annual com­pe­ti­tion in Paris as evi­dence of this. An Egyptian extra vir­gin olive oil by Wadi Food won a Gold Award at this year’s New York International Olive Oil Competition and won a Best In Class and Silver at the com­pe­ti­tion in 2015.

After Egypt’s removal from the IOC, it took the country’s house of rep­re­sen­ta­tives one year to read and review the updated agree­ment, which had pre­vi­ously been signed in 2005.

The new agree­ment changed the require­ments for coun­tries to enter the IOC, mak­ing it eas­ier. It also pro­vided inter­na­tional pro­tec­tion for the geo­graph­i­cal indi­ca­tions agreed on by mem­bers as well as encour­aged the trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy, cul­ti­va­tion and pro­duc­tion tech­niques among mem­ber nations.

The leg­isla­tive body signed off on the new agree­ment on January 8 of this year and sent it to the desk of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to be rat­i­fied. He did so on January 29.

It took another two months for the agree­ment to be offi­cially signed in New York, par­tially due to pres­i­den­tial elec­tions which took place at the end of March. During the cam­paign, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met Ghedira in Madrid to dis­cuss final­iz­ing the agree­ment and Egypt chair­ing the IOC in 2019.

Shoukry and Ghedira wel­comed the return of Egypt to the coun­cil,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said. “[And] Egypt is planned to chair the IOC in 2019.”


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