Minister counsellor for economic affairs at the Chinese embassy in Cairo Han Bing said that former Chinese ambassador to Cairo Song Aiguo has contributed greatly to the promotion and strengthening of relations between Egypt and China.
“President El Sisi awarded Aiguo the order of the republic in recognition of his efforts and role in supporting Beijing-Cairo relations,” Bing added.
In an exclusive interview to Sada El Balad English Website “See”, the Chinese official said that Egyptian-Chinese relations have witnessed an obvious growth and development since El Sisi took office in 2014.
“In December 2014, Egypt’s head of state paid his first visit to China, where the two leaders have upgraded the relations between both countries to comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination,” the councillor noted. “Since then, the bilateral relations have seen a tremendous progress in all fields especially in the economic one.”
Moreover, Bing added that last January the Egyptian president received a high-level Chinese delegation headed by the member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Yang Jiechi.
“They agreed on promoting pragmatic cooperation between the two countries in all fields,” Han added. He promised that the next three years will witness further cooperation between the two countries, lauding the current significant economic reform program adopted by the Egyptian government.
“China sees major opportunities for the expansion of economic cooperation with Egypt in fields such as infrastructure projects, investment, energy and agriculture,” he said.
Trade Exchange Volume
The Chinese official pointed out that the volume of trade exchange between Egypt and China jumped to USD 13.87 billion in 2018, compared to USD 10.8 billion in 2017.
Han added that Egypt’s exports to China increased last year to hit USD 1.8 billion.
“Egyptian authorities express strong desire to boost economic ties with the Chinese side,” Bing confirmed. “Both sides are working together to overcome all problems and obstacles.”
“Belt and Road” initiative
“Belt and Road initiative” (BRI) is welcomed by most world’s countries”, Han noted. “More than 150 countries took part in the BRI Forum.”
He went on to say that last April, El Sisi participated in the 2nd Belt and Road forum for International Cooperation, in the light of Egypt’s weight and its current presidency of the African Union (AU).
“In his speech before the forum, the Egyptian leader mentioned that China’s initiative is in line with Egypt’s development goals of boosting growth and manufacturing within the framework of Egypt’s Vision 2030,” the Chinese official noted. “The president also referred to the Cape-to-Cairo highway project, and Lake Victoria, Mediterranean Sea navigation line link.”
“Within the framework of BRI, there is a remarkable joint cooperation between Egypt and China in five areas which embody the initiative goals including: policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure, unimpeded trade, financial integration and closer people-to-people ties,” Bing confirmed.
Moreover, Han confirmed that China is contributing to Egypt’s development through massive infrastructure projects like: Ports, Transportation, electricity, and Tele-communications fields. He also referred to the great cooperation between the customs’ authorities of both countries.
“China has offered many training courses and scholarships to the Egyptian students,” Han added.”For example, last year around 600 Egyptian students attended the training courses in China.”
“In return, there are many Chinese students here in Egypt,” Han confirmed.
Concerning tourism, the commercial counsellor pointed out that around 400,000 Chinese tourists visited Egypt last year. “These figures are likely to increase this year.”
“Egypt enjoys attractive tourist destinations”, Han noted.”Even though, it has to pay more attention to the tourism propaganda to let tourists know more about Egypt beautiful resorts like: the Red Sea, as well as great ancient sites.”
“Security and Safety tops Tourists concerns”, Han noted. “Thus, Tourists need very safe situation in the country.”
”Some tourist cities in Egypt are not well-organized and tourists are not feeling comfortable, suffering from mass, so Egypt need to improve that,” the Chinese official said.
“Egypt could introduce RMB pay that is more convenient and attractive for the tourists,” Han proposed. “In some European Countries the tourists can pay via mobile phones, which is very easy.”
Han asserted that the Chinese investments in Egypt have witnessed a notable growth over the last five years.
“According to statistics by various Chinese firms, China had pumped investments worth USD 7 billion in 2018,” he added.”About USD 5 billion in oil and gas field and USD 2 billion in manufacturing sector.”
In addition, the Chinese official hailed the Egyptian government efforts to create a suitable investment environment for foreign investors, especially in the light of the new investment law passed in 2017.
He promised that more Chinese investments would be injected in the Egyptian market during the coming period in steel, textile, and raw materials productions.
“Foreign investors still face some difficulties in the investment in Egypt,” the counsellor said.”For example, the policies, which changed suddenly, make a huge uncertainty”
“The Investors also get different explanations about some policies from different departments in Egypt,” Han noted. “So some policies appeared very attractive at the beginning but once you asked for details, you find their implementation quite different.”
“According to new investment law which identifies investments areas as sector A and B. Investors should receive a 50% discount off investment costs in sector A, yet in reality it is only about 12%,” Han explained.