A new free trade regime threatens car-makers. Some are trying to keep global competition at bay
This month, Mercedes-Benz became the first of several major motor-manufacturers which are expected to halt assembly work in Egypt. Under the country's trade treaty with the European Union, duties on imported, fully-assembled vehicles are being progressively phased out by the end of the decade. That makes local assembly uneconomic. A large share of such factories belongs to politically-influential owners, such as the Ghabbour and Masreya families, who are looking at other ways of staying in business, say sources in Cairo. The families, which also control automotive retail markets, are intent on using their influence to protect their positions.
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