Egypt looks to team up with Singapore to build a new industrial zone: minister

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Egypt is keen to work with Singapore to set up an industrial zone in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone), said the country’s Minister for Investment and International Cooperation.

Sahar Nasr, who visited Singapore last week, added that Egypt is looking to attract more Singapore investors, especially in the urban development, utilities, maritime, and food-processing sectors.

Nasr and a delegation from the country were here last week to meet government and private-sector leaders, including Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean; Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan; and Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Koh Poh Koon. The visit came on the back of comprehensive economic reforms launched in Egypt to improve the business environment and attract more foreign investors.

Said Nasr in an interview with The Straits Times: “The two countries have a lot in common and leaders have the shared objective of boosting prosperity… (we are) aligned in terms of wanting to improve standards of living, create jobs and boost economic growth.

“(The new reforms) address many investors’ concerns and streamline the process of investing… Egypt is open for business.”

One of the delegation’s key goals was promoting the SCZone – an industrial development corridor that aims to transform 461 sq km and six ports strategically located along one of world’s most main trading routes into an international commercial hub.

The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Isthmus of Suez.

Admiral Mohab Mamish, the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority and the SCZone, said the zone’s geographical location and Egypt’s large and growing population could be strong draws for Singapore investors.

Investors can also use the zone as a springboard to the rest of Africa, added Admiral Mamish.

Dr Nasr noted: “The cost of doing business is also relatively low in Egypt because of the young population, which is where (Singapore and Egypt) complement each other.”

Besides urging Singapore companies to invest, Egypt is also keen to build an integrated development project in the SCZone – including an industrial zone, housing and a tourism area – with Singaporean expertise.

“Singapore has significant expertise in urban development and developing industrial zones… This is something we are moving forward with in Egypt,” she added.

The delegation also met water and energy firm Hyflux and port operator PSA Corp to discuss the next steps for memorandums of understanding that had been signed previously.

In addition, Egypt’s Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation and Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education agreed to collaborate to set up a training facility in the SCZone.

A memorandum of understanding was also signed between the Singapore Business Federation and the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce.

Bilateral trade between Egypt and Singapore reached $679.1 million in 2015.

Source: ST