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Egypt woos Chinese investors

By Hu Haiyan | China Daily Africa | Updated: 2014-12-21 13:16

Country seeks collaboration with China in energy and transport

Poised to make sweeping economic reforms at a major development conference in March, Egyptian leaders played up their existing cooperative ties with China during a recent visit to Beijing.

At the Egyptian embassy in Beijing early this month, a delegation that included Egypt's ministers of transportation, international cooperation, industry and trade as well as electricity and energy said investment opportunities in their country are on the rise for Chinese investors.

 Egypt woos Chinese investors

Workers at Hisense factory in China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone. Investment opportunities in Egypt are on the rise for Chinese investors. Provided to China Daily


Naglaa El-Ahwany, the minister of international cooperation, says the Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh will be an important milestone for Egypt's economy.

"As a global investor, China will play a key role in the meeting. All the Chinese government officials, company representatives and investors are welcome to the meeting."

China is Egypt's largest trade partner, with bilateral trade volume reaching about $11 billion last year.

The ministers' visit, a prelude to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visit to China at the end of the month, shed light on negotiations for possible cooperation between the two countries, in transport.

Hany Dahy, Egypt's minister of transport, says the country is in talks with several Chinese high-speed train makes such as CSR Corp Ltd.

"We are talking about cooperation in various forms, including co-establishing factories or developing technologies together."

The conference in March will likely attract billions of dollars in foreign investment over the nation's planned four-year period to help improve its staggering economy. Egyptian officials have forecast economic growth of 3.8 percent next year.

Mohamed Shaker, Egypt's minister of electricity and energy, says the nation is seeking to cooperate with foreign investors in the energy sector.

"All of these programs will be revealed during the March conference, which deserves the attention of Chinese investors."

Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, the minister of industry and trade, says several Egyptian industries, such as mining, textiles and leather, have great potential.

"These areas are of great appeal for Chinese companies and these areas are also where the Chinese companies' advantages lie. Egypt welcomes Chinese companies to take part in the development of these industries."

Zhang Bin, managing director of China Civil Engineering Construction Corp's Middle East division, says Egypt has a great deal of development potential.

"We are keeping a close eye on investment opportunities in Egypt, which is our backbone in expanding our business to the Middle East," Zhang says.

During the meeting in early December, Dahy emphasized Egypt's aim to become the hub of trade for Africa.

"To realize this target, Egypt has to increase investment in transportation and boost its development. Egypt is currently developing a high-speed rail industry and since China is the biggest high-speed train producer there is great potential for the two countries to cooperate in this area."

China's feats in high-speed rail have been well documented. In about seven years, it developed the world's largest high-speed rail network, covering more than 11,000 kilometers, that in a little more than a year from now will stretch to 18,000 km and 21,000 km by 2020.

During an interview in July, Zheng Changhong, president of CSR Corp Ltd, said taking China's high-speed rail expertise opens up a huge market for Chinese manufacturers.

"More than 50 countries have expressed a desire to acquire technological support from China in developing high-speed rail, and more than a fifth of those countries said they hope they can work with CSR with technology and products," he said at the time. "By 2020 we expect half of CSR's revenue will come from overseas."

Dahy was the head of Egyptian General Petroleum Corp from 2011 until his retirement in 2012. As acting company head, he was one of the authorities responsible for the decision to terminate Egypt's natural gas export contract with Israel.

Dahy says Egypt has geographic advantages that it should take advantage of to become the transport hub of the continent.

"The national government has adopted strategies to revitalize energy, transport, logistics, agriculture, housing, tourism and mining industries. Egypt will become one of the most important destinations on the continent. This certainly will bring many opportunities for Chinese investors."

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