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Egypt eyes further Chinese investments in national development projects

Egypt seeks further Chinese investments in its ongoing national development projects, while considering China as one of the most important strategic partners, said Egyptian investment minister on Thursday.

She noted Chinese interest in the projects such as developing the Suez Canal corridor, establishing a new administrative capital city and reclaiming 1.5 acres of desert lands.

Khorshid’s remarks came a few days after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi returned from China where he attended the Group of 20 (G20) two-day summit, concluded Monday in China’s eastern city of Hangzhou, as a guest of honor at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The minister described Egypt’s participation in the summit as “a great chance” to promote investment opportunities in the country among the world’s largest economies and to convey the true image of Egypt.

“It was also a great chance to present key reforms being conducted by Egypt to create a better investment climate and attract more foreign investments,” Khorshid pointed out, stressing foreign investments as basic engines for economic growth through pumping capitals, activating industry, reducing unemployment rates and improving productivity.

Sisi has visited China three times since he came to office in mid-2014 including his recent G20 summit visit to which he was invited during Xi’s first state visit to the most populous Arab country in January.

“During the summit, Egypt stressed the necessity for merging developing countries, including Egypt, into global economy to boost their performance and stability, given their promising economic elements,” Khorshid said.

The Egyptian government has established a special cabinet unit for the Egyptian-Chinese relations besides a committee with two Egyptian ministers of trade and investment, the Chinese minister of trade and the head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

“The ministerial committee met in Beijing in July and agreed on a number of projects in energy, transport, housing and industry,” Khorshid said, revealing that 1,260 companies operating in Egypt involve Chinese shareholders, with a total capital of about half a billion U.S. dollars.

She said the bilateral trade volume reached 12 billion dollars in 2015 and about 5.7 billion dollars in the first half 2016.

Egypt has been struggling to survive a sharp economic recession over the past five years of political turmoil and relevant security issues, leading to the decline of tourism, exports, foreign currency reserves and foreign investments.

Many foreign investors complain that bureaucracy makes a business in Egypt a time-consuming issue as it takes long to get official permits and specified lands for their projects, besides the dollar shortage that cripples importers.

Khorshid said to improve the country’s economic situation, her ministry has planned a number of procedures to be carried out soon, such as forming a higher council for investment, reshaping investment policy, providing a suitable business environment and preparing an investment promotion strategy based on international expertise.

Egypt has recently reached an initial agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to get a loan of 12 billion dollars to reduce its budget deficit and carry out a three-year tough economic reform program that will include subsidy cuts and extra tax.

The minister also mentioned the country is launching the largest business listing program in the stock market via a 3-5 year plan that is expected to bring Egypt 5 to 10 billion dollars.


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