Interview: Egypt keen to strengthen ties with China – Minister

Egyptian Trade and Industry minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said his country is keen to boost economic and industrial relations with China.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, Abdel Nour said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will visit China in September, the second visit in nine months, to reinforce the two nations’ political, commercial and industrial relations.

The bilateral ties between Egypt and China have been notably growing as their mutual economic cooperation is on the rise.

Abdel Nour noted that a large number of memorandums of understanding were signed with China during Sisi’s visit to Beijing last December, adding that the Egyptian government, after studying these memos thoroughly, has chosen 14 public projects and four private projects to be implemented.

He expected that agreements to carry out these projects will be signed during Sisi’s upcoming visit to China.

One of the projects to be signed during his China visit is the electric railway that will connect 10th of Ramadan City and Bilbeis City, Sharqeya to Cairo, the minister said.

“A project to enhance electricity supply and transmission networks in Egypt will be singed as well,” the minister said, revealing that that there is a project to build a power generating station in Suez Province.

There is a grant agreement that is worth 30 million U.S. dollars for remote sensing and space sciences in Egypt, the minister said, adding that China’s Investment Bank will give a 100-million-U.S. dollar loan to the Egyptian Ahli Bank for funding medium and small projects.

Regarding private projects, the minister said that Chinese Jushi Egypt for Fiberglass Industry will start the second phase, affirming that, with the second phase starting to function, Egypt will be able to export fiberglass to the outside world.

He said negotiations are underway with leather industry companies in China to invest in al-Robeky leather zone, which is specialized in leather manufacture.

There are large Chinese investments by TEDA Investment Holding Co., Ltd. in Suez in the Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone in Egypt, according to the minister.

China has become Egypt’s first trading partner as trade between both countries has reached 11 billion U.S. dollars, Abdel Nour revealed.

But this cooperation is strongly unbalanced, the minister said, as Chinese exports to Egypt are worth 10.5 billion dollars, while Egypt’s exports to China stand at half a billion.

“We are working hard to increase our exports to China and urge for opening the Chinese markets for our industrial and agricultural exports,” he said.

On the government’s steps to attract investors, Abdel Nour said the Egyptian government has revised and amended many laws, such as the unified investment law and the law of the private economic zones, to draw more investors.

“We are re-examining the tax law … all this aims at facilitating investment in Egypt,” the minster explained.

Sisi’s meeting with the Chinese leadership will encourage the parties to accelerate carrying out the projects that have been studied and become feasible, the minister said.

He stressed that his government is seeking to get loans from China to carry out a number of projects, expressing hope that these projects would be seen as investment chances for Chinese companies.

China has a great opportunity to invest in the new Suez Canal area, the minister, as Southeast Asian countries can benefit the most from this mega project.

“For a country like China, it would be great to have a logistic place to gather its exports before sending them to their final destinations… using a place like Suez area for such a project would a great chance for China,” the minister said.

The minister said the Egyptian economy is in need for medium and small projects as well as new infrastructure.

“China and other countries can invest in these fields that are rapidly growing,” Abdel Nour said.

Source: Xinhua

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