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Belt and Road initiative injects vitality into Egypt-China ties

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-05-09 08:47

CAIRO - The future of economic relations between Egypt and China under the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative is promising and we urge further Chinese investments in Egypt to fasten the pace of Egyptian-Chinese economic integration, said the Egyptian trade and industry minister in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil is a member of an Egyptian high-profile ministerial delegation scheduled to visit China to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on May 14 and 15.

"The main purpose of the visit is to take part in the B&R forum, as Egypt supports the initiative, and to meet with some Chinese companies that have investment opportunities in Egypt," said the Egyptian minister.

Launched by President Xi in 2013, the B&R initiative includes the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road which aims at reviving ancient trade routes to link China with numerous countries in Asia, Africa and Europe through trade and infrastructure networks.

"I believe that the B&R initiative is great and China can surely make it a success," said Kabil, stressing that Egypt is a focal access point in the initiative for being the portal for Africa and for having many promising investment opportunities for Chinese companies.

He added that in order to ensure the success of the initiative, there should be agreement and coordination among all B&R states to complete the relevant infrastructures and also the initiative should provide win-win situations and mutual interests for all related parties.

The volume of trade between China and Egypt, a focal spot in the initiative, has mounted to 11.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, ranking Egypt as the third African trade partner with China.

Although most of the mutual trade between China and Egypt is represented in Chinese exports to the most populous Arab country, China imports of Egyptian commodities in the first two months of 2017 have reached 159 million dollars, with a 326.25 percent year-on-year growth.

"The Chinese investments in Egypt are less than 600 million U.S. dollars, which is very small given China's weight as the world's second largest economy and its focus on investment in Africa," the minister told Xinhua.

Through the initiative, Egypt as an Asian portal for Africa aspires to complete its related infrastructure to become "a large trading hub" for logistics among B&R states and to attract foreign investments in its strategic Suez Canal Corridor region.

The Egyptian parliament approved on Sunday a long-awaited investment law, which aims at removing obstacles facing local and foreign investors to boost the country's economy that severely suffered over the past few years of political turmoil and relevant security issues.

"The recently-approved new investment law will urge Chinese companies to invest in Egypt," Kabil told Xinhua, noting that his country has promising investment opportunities in several industrial fields including chemicals, textile, engineering, construction material and technology.

Egypt and China elevated their bilateral ties to the level of "comprehensive strategic partnership" amid exchanged visits between Chinese President Xi and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

Kabil explained that boosting economic relations usually takes longer than political ones, as political relations can be addressed in a meeting or two but economic ties involve industry, investment, trade and many other factors that need further mechanisms.

The minister said that the Egyptian delegation during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing will explain the country's vision on the mutual interests among the B&R states and the Chinese investment opportunities in Egypt.

"All the world invests in China and China invests in Africa. Egypt has all the advantages to attract Chinese investors and we urge the Chinese government to encourage companies to invest in Egypt," the Egyptian minister told Xinhua.

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