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UK Trade Envoy to Egypt visits Cairo in efforts to strengthen bilateral trade and education relations

Wed 27 Sep 2023 | 06:28 PM
Basant Ahmed

 Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, UK Trade Envoy to Egypt, returned to Cairo on a pivotal visit, accompanying a distinguished UK Higher Education mission aimed at fostering Transnational Education (TNE) and academic collaboration between the United Kingdom and Egypt. This collaborative initiative underscores the commitment of both nations to advancing education and trade partnerships.

The UK Higher Education mission, comprising 10 prestigious UK universities and organized in partnership with the Egyptian Cultural & Educational Bureau in London, the Egyptian-British Chamber of Commerce, the British Council, and the Department for Business and Trade, convened to explore opportunities for academic collaboration in Egypt.

Prime Minister Dr Mostafa Madbouli met with the mission alongside the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Dr Ayman Ashour and the British Ambassador to Egypt Gareth Bayley. Dr Madbouli reflected on all the achievements Egypt has undertaken in the higher education sector in the past years, making Egypt a regional hub for the higher education sector. He emphasized the importance of educational partnerships between UK universities and Egypt and looking forward to seeing that partnership grow, while highlighting that internationalization of the higher education sector is on the government’s priorities.

During the mission, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, alongside Ambassador Bayley, engaged in a productive meeting with Dr. Ashour. The discussions centered on TNE investment opportunities in Egypt. The mission delegation also participated in the Higher Education Symposium, celebrating the growth of partnerships and the significant progress made in Egypt's higher education sector. Currently, more than 90 UK universities have established partnerships within Egypt and in efforts to explore more potential partnerships, the mission also visited various Egyptian university campuses.

One of the mission's key milestones was the signing of several Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) to advance cooperation between British Universities and Egyptian educational institutions, including University of Essex, University of Edinburgh Napier, and the opening of a branch of campus of the University of East London within European Universities in Egypt.

In addition, an MoU was signed between the British Council and the Science, Technology and Innovation Funding Authority (STDF), set to span the next three years, while focusing on scientific collaboration, with an open call for Research Environment grants now available. The grants aim to support research environments and align research initiatives with Egypt's specific demands and development priorities.

In addition to education, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson held significant Ministerial meetings on bilateral trade during his visit to Egypt. He met with Mr. Ahmed Eissa, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, to discuss collaboration and celebrate the increase in flight services between the UK and Egypt. Reflecting positively on these developments, Sir Jeffrey emphasized the importance of tourism in strengthening bilateral ties.

In a meeting with Mr. Ahmed Samir Saleh, Minister of Trade and Industry, Sir Jeffrey emphasized the UK's £4.7 billion trading relationship with Egypt. They discussed the best avenues to facilitate further trade and investment, particularly in renewable energy and healthcare, showcasing Egypt as an attractive investment destination. Moreover, discussions centered on the upcoming UK-Africa Investment Summit scheduled for April 2024, hosted by the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, which will bring together political and business leaders from the UK and 24 African countries. The summit is anticipated to foster substantial commercial activity, building on the £15.5 billion worth of deals agreed upon during the previous summit.

Commenting on his visit and meetings as a whole, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson stated, "My visit to Egypt has been incredibly fruitful. It's been a privilege to witness the strong commitment of both the UK and Egypt to strengthening our ties across education and trade. In addition to exploring avenues for educational cooperation, I have had the opportunity to discuss ways to enhance investments and promote the upcoming UK-Africa Investment Summit in April 2024. We eagerly anticipate Egypt's active participation in this summit, which promises to be a platform for substantial collaboration and economic growth. Our discussions have been both insightful and forward-looking, and I am confident that our collaborations will yield significant benefits for both nations."

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson also engaged with UK businesses, showcasing the possibilities presented by the Egyptian market. His discussions further underscored the importance of fostering economic cooperation between the two nations.

The visit of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and the UK Higher Education mission serves as a testament to the enduring partnership and collaboration between the United Kingdom and Egypt. It reflects a shared commitment to advancing education, trade, and bilateral relations.

Ambassador Gareth Bayley emphasized the mission's significance, stating, "The UK Higher Education mission, featuring 10 prestigious universities in the UK, underscores our unwavering commitment to enhancing educational ties between the UK and Egypt. The UK stands as one of Egypt's foremost education partners, a position of immense pride, and we are enthusiastic about the prospects for further investments in Egypt's higher education sector. Whether through the establishment of new branch campuses or the expansion of transnational education, this mission presents a unique opportunity to meet the educational needs of Egypt’s next generation of youth. These enduring partnerships will not only bolster academic collaboration but also play a pivotal role in Egypt's higher education sector development."