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Egypt counts on China as key partner in economy push

By Mahmoud Fouly (Xinhua)    09:21, March 21, 2015

CAIRO, March 20-- As Egypt is heading towards economic growth after four years of political turmoil, the country eyes further Chinese investments particularly after Egypt and China decided to elevate their bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

During the recently-concluded Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC), Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made it clear that China is among the "advanced countries" Egypt counts on for economic development.

"I invite advanced countries, the European countries, the American countries and China, to think about contributing to finance projects in Egypt carried out by their companies in a facilitated way to be paid off (by Egypt) over long years," Sisi said in his EEDC concluding statement on Sunday.

A day earlier, the Egyptian president met with Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng who announced that his country plans huge investment projects in Egypt in various fields.

Attended by about 90 countries some of which were represented by heads of states, as well as 25 organizations and world institutions, The EEDC garnered investment deals from European and Arab states as well as China that are worth billions of dollars.

State Grid Corporation of China signed an agreement to invest1.8 billion dollars in upgrading the electric power grid system in Egypt.

"The deal is a great step for both the Egyptian and the Chinese sides, as Egypt does not want all energy deals to be restricted to European and U.S. corporations like Siemens and General Electric," said Ibrahim Nawwar, economic expert and former spokesman of the Egyptian industry and foreign trade ministry.

He told Xinhua that Chinese investments in Egypt can create a kind of balance to limit the monopoly of foreign investments in the country by European, U.S. and Arab corporations.

Like many economists, Nawwar sees that Egypt can represent a springboard for China into the African continent, stressing that investments in natural resources like the oil and gas and in infrastructure like power grids are great opportunities for Chinese investors.

"China considers Africa a vast field for its prospect investments and Egypt represents a very important key for Chinese investments and trade in Africa," Nawwar said.

Egypt is currently working on huge national projects of expanding the Suez Canal and later on developing its surrounding region by establishing industrial cities and ship service projects that are worth billions of dollars.

Nawwar said Chinese corporations have already been establishing a Chinese industrial area northeast of the Suez Gulf, expecting the project to continue as part of the main Suez Canal Corridor development project.

"The Chinese have great opportunities to invest in the Suez Canal Corridor, as it will represent a close center for their exports into Europe, Africa and the Middle East region," the expert said, suggesting a future Chinese project to establish a railway line to link between Egypt and south of Africa.

The growing stability in Egypt has lured more Chinese companies to open branches in Egypt and to plan future investments with the Egyptian government that has made earnest measures to facilitate foreign investments.

"Egypt sees increasing political and social stability, and its economy is recovering after years of chaos. So, there are great opportunities for foreign investors here in various fields such as electric power, renewable energy, transportation and road construction," said Mao Guohua, a deputy manager at China Gezhouba Group Co., LTD, which has recently opened a branch in Egypt in late2014.

Mao told Xinhua that the Egyptian government has shown its sincerity and determination to improve economic and investment environment for foreign investors.

To make it easy for investors, the Egyptian government worked hard to get rid of bureaucracy by issuing the new Unified Investment Law and initiated the one-stop-window system that makes a license for a business establishment can be done in one place within a few days.

For his part, Egyptian Industry and Trade Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour said that Chinese investments are welcomed in Egypt and that his country seeks to learn from the Chinese economic development experience.

"There are investment opportunities in various fields in Egypt that should attract the attention of Chinese investors," the minister told Xinhua, describing the Chinese development experience as "so amazing that we closely and attentively examine and want to copy here in Egypt." 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Gao Yinan,Bianji)

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