The Ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Cairo, Ahmed Abdel-Aziz Kattan stressed out the Saudi-Egyptian economic relations have improved over the past few years, flagging up that all Saudi businesspeople were committed to maintain their investments in Egyptian markets, despite the heavy losses they incurred over the past year, particularly in highly afflicted sectors as tourism and manufacturing industries. The Saudi investors in Egypt sustained these losses, due to a year-long sector-wide recession in various Egyptian production-oriented and service sectors, said Kattan.
Kattan also revealed that he will meet with Egyptian Prime Minister, Dr. Kamal Ganzouri, in order to discuss informal mechanisms for dispute settlement between Saudi investors and the Egyptian government. “Egyptian officials expressed willingness to pursue negotiations with the Saudi investors who will attend the meeting scheduled with the Egyptian Premier, in order to eliminate the need to resort international trade arbitration”, His Excellency added.
Kattan pointed out that he has held a recent meeting with the Speaker of the People’s Assembly, Dr. Saad El Katatni, after which the Speaker instructed the Housing, Industry, Agriculture, and Economic committees to commence examining the files submitted by the Saudi businessmen delegation.
According to the Saudi Ambassador, the parliamentary specialized committees are now considering two important disputed cases, which involve “Omar Effendi” megastores and “Tanta Linen” company. The two privatized companies were acquired several years ago, to two Saudi investors, Jameel Al Qunaibet and Abdelilah El Kaaki, respectively; by means of purchase; however the Administrative Court issued a ruling that repudiate the two purchase contracts. There also some other trade disputes involving Saudi businesses including the “Savola” and “Ajwaa” and “the Saudi Real Estate Investments”. Kattan expects the committees to issue their recommendations by the end of this month.
“Economic relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt currently enjoy high level of attention from officials in both countries, with the aim to avoid any potential problems and resolve them as they arise”, expressed Kattan. He also expected the coming phase to witness more stability and growth of Saudi investments in Egypt, pointing out that the reports of the Egyptian Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade confirmed a steady growth in size of the bilateral trade over the past three years. The trade balance jumped from two billion dollars in 2009 to 2.8 billion dollars in 2010, and despite all the obstacles, jumped again to 3.4 billion dollars last year.
Over the past three years, official investment reports have ranked the Kingdom as the top destination for Egyptian exports, which amounted to around 809 million dollars in 2009, and leaped up to 1.1 billion dollars in 2010, and jumped again to 1.4 billion dollars last year.