Egypt, Saudi Arabia work to advance trade, investment

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, left, talks to reporters in Riyadh with his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal, right. [Fayez Nureldine/AFP]

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, left, talks to reporters in Riyadh with his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal, right. [Fayez Nureldine/AFP]

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Riyadh and Cairo have been holding intensive meetings to advance economic relations and increase trade between the two countries and to encourage Saudi investments in Egypt.

During a January 5th press conference in Riyadh with his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr spoke of new horizons open to Saudi investors in Egypt through bilateral ventures.

"The volume of investments between the two countries has grown significantly larger than it was in the past, and available opportunities to grow it further are vast," al-Faisal said.

A new unit dedicated to resolving issues Saudi investors might face in Egypt is set to open soon, Maamoun Saleh of the Ministry of Investment's foreign trade division told Al-Shorfa.

"The unit will work in connection with all relevant ministries that have direct interaction with Saudi investors, such as the trade and industry, tourism and interior ministries, so as to remove any potential obstacles, particularly with regard to obtaining the requisite licenses, and expediting bureaucratic processes," he said.

"The unit, which will be in direct contact with Saudi investors, will expedite the entry of investors [into the Egyptian market] by reassuring them and reducing their initial licensing costs, thus accelerating the infusion of investment funds into the market," he said.

Saudi businessman Rashed al-Jahni, who is in Cairo to discuss the possibility of investing in the restaurant industry, said he has found the atmosphere promising.

All his inquiries have been answered by the relevant officials and his entrance into the restaurant sector has been welcomed by government agencies, he said.

Al-Jahni is considering opening a restaurant chain in Egypt that specialises in Gulf cuisine, and was initially concerned about encountering difficulties.

"However, the efforts by senior officials in the two countries to facilitate the entry of Saudi businessmen into the Egyptian market are quickly beginning to show results on the ground, confirming that the economic and brotherly relations between both countries are indeed strong," he said.

Economic bridges

In addition to facilitating the entry of Saudi investors into the Egyptian market, the two countries seek to increase traffic between them through water and land crossings, said Dr. Mohieddine Abu al-Alaa, professor of economics at Zagazig University.

These will serve as economic bridges that will yield important benefits to the Egyptian economy, he told Al-Shorfa.

"This is what Egypt actually needs, more than aid or internal investment," he said. "Increasing exports from Egypt to Saudi Arabia means more work for Egyptian factories, the movement of production and a higher number of employed workers, which would bring relief to the street."

Saudi Arabia ranks first among Arab countries in terms of investment volume in Egypt -- $5.7 billion spread over 2,876 projects -- while the value of trade exchange between the two countries amounts to almost $5 billion, according to Awad Abdel-Azim, a co-ordinator from the Saudi-Egyptian Business Council.

Abdel-Azim said businessmen in the two countries are determined to work together for their mutual benefit and to boost bilateral relations between the two countries.

"Work is currently under way to finalise and prepare the dossiers to be discussed at the meetings of the joint committee for economic and technical co-operation and trade between the two countries, slated to be held next month in Riyadh," he said.

The next phase will focus on building and expanding water and land crossings between the two countries to streamline the flow of cargo, he said.

The primary areas open to Saudi investors are renewable energy, tourism (hotels, restaurants and large tourist projects), construction, agriculture, industry and services, Abdel-Azim said.

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    رانيا ساهر

    2013-2-5

    Dear Mursi, you must restore the high salaries of the employees and decrease the taxes. In addition, you must exact the retribution against those who killed the martyrs. You are also required to achieve the stability of the country.

  • أيوب باهر

    2013-1-26

    This is true indeed… Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey must take the best projects that appeal to them because they stood with us and supported Egypt. Therefore, they should enjoy the precedence in all fields. The rest of the projects should be assigned to foreign investors.

  • راشد معاذ

    2013-1-24

    I congratulate everyone who participated in putting together this collaboration plan between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, because Egypt is now going through huge conflicts and nobody knows how to get out safely. Just hearing about such a project between the two countries gives a feeling of assurance and safety, because any investment would bring job opportunities for unemployed Egyptians. What I suggest is for the Egyptian government to facilitate this kind of investments for Saudi businessmen, as long as it is beneficial to Egypt. What made me happy was when I heard that some Saudi businessmen really believe in the success of their investments in Egypt; for example, the investor who wants to open restaurants that serve meals specific to the Gulf region. This project is definitely going to be successful and will bring even more tourists. We thank both governments for their efforts to make this happen.

  • حبيب نايف

    2013-1-24

    I call upon the Egyptian officials to speedily provide help in order to promote and enhance trade. They should do so by establishing extensive trade and investment relations with all countries in the world and letting these countries take Egypt as a modern trade hub. This will help in further underpinning trade in Egypt in this period.

  • جهاد يزيد

    2013-1-24

    I thank every government official who thought of planning for a better trading policy, because Egypt really needs any improvement it can get in its local production, to compete with the products of other countries. Of course, the Egyptian GDP is a lot lower than that of Saudi Arabia, and that's why Egyptians are migrating to Saudi Arabia, looking for jobs, any jobs, even if they don't match their qualifications. I feel sorry when I see people around me who are overqualified for the jobs they are doing. This project between Egypt and Saudi Arabia will certainly make a difference for them; I just hope they will execute it really fast.

  • أسامة مشعل

    2013-1-23

    Enough with the meetings and presentations...go for execution!!

  • إيهاب رشاد

    2013-1-23

    The best places for agriculture, industry, tourism, medical care, entertainment, export and logistics is the zone between Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. The second place is between Sudan, Libya and Egypt. In Europe, the best ones are close to the open borders. Happy New Year to all the Arab brothers.

  • طارق سويدان

    2013-1-23

    The next stage will witness an economic boost and a new horizon for collaboration and partnership between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It is important to seize every opportunity for a promising future for the economy of both countries, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, especially given that there is a huge potential for investment and economic partnership.

  • نورهان مروان

    2013-1-23

    Nobody can deny that Egypt is in a serious crisis, where nobody seems to be able to get out of the vicious circle of corruption, even after the revolution and the election of a new president. Everything has remained as it was; there are no achievements to speak of, other than forming new useless governments and then “dismissing” them. Why can't anybody get rid of corruption? I ask the Egyptian Minister of Trade to prepare a dynamic plan to call for more collaboration between Egypt and other Arab and non-Arab nations to bring more investments and trade.

  • محمد عزت

    2013-1-23

    Were there any economic efficiency studies conducted on the navigation lines when talking about building the bridge??

  • عصام عبد العزيز

    2013-1-23

    It is a step in the right direction; may God protect the two countries from the evil-wishers. Amen.

  • نبيلة عبد العال

    2013-1-23

    From my point of view, this decision should have been made a long time ago and executed as soon as possible, because the Egyptians will benefit from the Saudi market and vice versa. Tourism will also be bi-directional, as Egypt is already a fine destination, while Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the holy places for Muslims, and many Egyptians would like to visit them. Building the bridge, then, means that Saudi Arabia will get a lot of Egyptian tourists, mostly for religious purposes.

  • سيف الدين على

    2013-1-23

    It worth mentioning that the efforts of Egypt and Saudi Arabia are good. KSA is one leading states in the investment in Egypt. It cooperates with Egypt to boost the joint investment and commercial exchange and facilitate the entry of the Saudi investors to Egypt where they carry out their giant projects because increase of the investment in Egypt means creating and opening new horizons for the workforce in Egypt. We all know that Egypt today suffers from a horrible economic crisis and the unemployment rates there increased in all governorates. Most of the unemployed citizens hold high certificates. They think of traveling to Saudi Arabia to get any job and they may even pay large sums to get Saudi visas. However, thanks to the efforts of the officials in Egypt and in Saudi Arabia, they provide employment opportunities to them inside Egypt without any need to travel to KSA. I wish that the idea of this project would continue and I wish success to the project. Indeed, the Egyptian people need these projects to make living.

  • ستار خلف

    2013-1-23

    I think that if the Egyptian government is looking for progress and economic support, it needs to reinforce its trade with the different countries and study the available market. This means that the Minister of Foreign Trade should make deals with the countries that want Egyptian industries or Egyptian raw materials. Also, Egypt should work hard to open new trade routes, in order to be like a channel for the Egyptian economy during this time. If this doesn’t happen, I think the problem will increase and we will never reach satisfying solutions.

  • عادل كامل

    2013-1-23

    What is happening between Egypt and Saudi Arabia is really great. I am sure that there will be huge economic progress in Egypt. I think that Egypt needs these refreshing investments because of the misery that the Egyptian people are living in and the increase in unemployment. Perhaps there will be openness between Egypt and Saudi Arabia when there are trade, investment and industrial reinforcements between the two countries. Also, in my opinion, the expansion of the highways and shipping routes may also create a new business market for the Egyptian youth. Indeed, it will be a very useful thing. We are waiting for good things from the Egyptian government, especially under the leadership of the esteemed president, Mohamed Morsi. I don’t know why lots of people are against him, while during the reign of Mubarak no one could say a word of rejection. We have to wait until Egypt becomes stable and carries out the projects and cooperation. At that time, no one will be better than we are. May God enable the investors to have support from the new Egyptian government that wants good things for Egypt. I hope we forget the previous governments of the previous leadership, because there is a big difference between the current one and the previous one.

  • لطيف شندل

    2013-1-22

    The sustainability of the investment depends on a prosperous trade exchange. The State should encourage trade exchange with the neighboring countries. I mean the trade activities must not be restricted to the local markets. Unfortunately, the Egyptian people and Government depend on the local consumers only. Indeed, the Government is supposed to expand trade to include the foreign markets. On the other hand, the authorities must incite the Egyptians to increase their productivity and to promote their product in foreign countries as appropriate. There are many potential markets for the Egyptian products. The laziness of the authorities will ruin the economy, which will depend on tax collection. Eventually, the protests, strikes and even revolutions will increase.

  • محمد ثامر

    2013-1-22

    O Lord, I hope that this is the beginning of your blessing. We are expecting more job opportunities in our homeland, Egypt. We will not be obliged to move to Saudi Arabia to look for a job there. Instead, the Saudis are investing in Egypt. We are happy with the new Saudi financed projects in Egypt. Those projects will definitely require an Egyptian workforce. That is really great. I hope that the employment will be under the Egyptian laws where workers could get insurance and pension. It would be perfect. I hope that the projects will be established. This is good news. I am wondering where those projects will be implemented. I mean where exactly. I am also wondering whether the projects will be public or private. Anyway, I am happy with the Saudi investment. I am very optimistic with Mohammad Morsi and his “renaissance plan”. Everything will be alright, God willing.

  • حامد اللميع

    2013-1-22

    It will certainly be an opportunity for both parties given that Egypt is going through rocky times and hope to make real communication with the Saudis in order to make trade exchange with them. In fact, the latter are successful businessmen who know how to invest and earn money within a determined period of time and this will certainly bring much wealth to both parties. Therefore, the Egyptian Government must frankly exploit this opportunity very well, especially as no one could deny that Egypt and the KSA shared a lot of wealth for a long time. Thus, we are hopeful that the exchanged wealth will be particularly in trade and investments will increase in this period, hoping that we will create something like cooperation or unity or economic unity in Arab countries so as to achieve development and prosperity. Indeed, cooperation is always beneficial for both parties. On the other hand, the expansion which they are talking about in seas and roads will have a great economic benefit at the international level between both parties in the coming period. In fact, this cooperation could increase the different kinds of trade between Egypt and the KSA which will promote investments and increase the income of both parties and particularly that of Egypt.

  • سلطان وسيم

    2013-1-22

    Honestly, we want cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Egypt to continue as much as possible, and I wish that the Arab governments will welcome helping Egypt, especially in this situation, which is very difficult today. Thanks to God, anyone who intends to invest in Egypt realizes that his investments would be good. We do not want the aid to be confined to some grants or charities. We need investments. In other words, who pays one dollar will take two. We seriously thank Saudi Arabia because it was among the early states that offered to help Egypt. We ask God to strengthen the good relations between Egypt and KSA. Saudi Arabia is not a normal state, but it is a sisterly country and it has always helped Egypt. The Saudi investors always invest their money in Egypt, which is about to achieve the difficult equation and get rid of the worries of the low economy. Amen

  • أيمن محمود

    2013-1-22

    I think that this is very good and pleasant news. I see that the Saudi commerce and investment in Egypt are more beneficial than the bonds or loans or any other forms of useless aid. The bonds and loans will lead Egypt to its doom because they would be used to fix the budget deficits. The investments between Egypt and Saudi Arabia can offer many solutions to several problems such as the unemployment, which became a chronic crisis. We taught in the College of commerce that investment is the only way to increase the national income. I wish that the Egyptian people could solve the economic problem and the vicious circle in which thy are trapped. O God! Make Saudi Arabia treat us as brothers because the conditions of my country really affect me. If the current situation continues, we will be in a serious situation. I am sorry because Egypt awaits help from its brothers, but some of them insist on ignoring it in this very difficult period. We thank God for everything and I think that the links between Saudi Arabia and its leaders are good.

  • إياد باسم

    2013-1-22

    Expanding the marine and land crossings between Saudi Arabia and Egypt will refresh the economy of both states. It worth mentioning that the Egyptian economy is in a serious situation and Egypt is about to fall below the poverty line. However, thanks to the Saudi officials, the investments inside Egypt will help the economy through the mutual investment projects. I wish that Egypt would attract more investments to benefit Egypt, God willing.

  • نيفين عدلى

    2013-1-21

    The Saudi approach to save Egypt proved to be the best. In fact, the situation is too disgraceful in Egypt. All countries are preoccupied with their own affairs. No one is ready to extend a helping hand to the Egyptians. Fortunately, the assistance offered by Saudi Arabia could help Egypt overcome the current crisis peacefully. In fact, Egypt is in a desperate need for such aids to survive. The economic projects in Egypt are not likely to achieve the desired results. In fact, they would aggravate the crisis. However, the joint cooperation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia will create tremendous economic possibilities. The projects would create job opportunities for the Egyptians, unlike the financial assistance. Egypt will be able to pay the debts and invest the surplus in new projects. The presence of the Saudi businessmen who are making investment projects will definitely affect the economy of Egypt and create job opportunities to young people, God willing.

  • صلاح رسلان

    2013-1-21

    Frankly speaking, the beginning is very promising. We are very optimistic about the evolution and development processes because the officials in Saudi Arabia are fully aware of their duties. Besides, they are seeking to compete with other countries around the world. In fact, all the Arab countries are in desperate need to make economic progress. For this reason, I appreciate the efforts of the Saudi Government and people and their great achievements. Of course, I expect more and more projects. I want to play a role in the development of my nation. Indeed, my country needs more help. Except for Saudi Arabia, no nation could help. Saudi Arabia is able to play this role. I also hope that countries from all over the Arab world will respond to the proposals of the Saudi State. We need more progress and evolution. Enough deterioration!

  • مايسة العسال

    2013-1-21

    The two brotherly countries have many trade and economic prospects that could be developed to the satisfaction of both parties. The latter should ratify joint cooperation agreements.

  • مروان إبراهيم

    2013-1-21

    He will transfer to them the unique renaissance experience which has divided the country into two parts, increased the cost of the dollar and resulted in crises, price increase and failure everywhere.

  • كرم جابر

    2013-1-21

    The strategy aims to serve the commercial interests of the two countries, be informed of the latest programs, enhance the trade and economic cooperation between the two countries in various fields, and promote cooperation between companies in the two countries in this specialized field, which will open new horizons for cooperation in other areas.

  • فراس كاسر

    2013-1-21

    The importance of taking advantage of the available opportunities and the promising future of the Egyptian and Saudi economies resides in the opportunities and great potential of investment and economic integration between the two countries, as part of a new vision to build strong strategic economic relationships during the next phase.

  • سمير وليد

    2013-1-21

    There are success stories about Saudi investments in Egypt in different sectors. For instance, the Saudi investments are considered as the largest Arab investments in Egypt estimated at about $5.6 billion. In addition, the amount of trade exchange has remarkably developed to reach $5 billion in 2012.

  • راشد معاذ

    2013-1-21

    I hope that they unite Egypt and Saudi Arabia and open the borders between them like before.

  • سطام ناصر

    2013-1-21

    Cooperation will play a significant role in the coming period. In fact, it includes a variety of experiences in various sectors to create new opportunities for joint cooperation between the two countries, and attract more Saudi investments to the Egyptian market.

  • خالد مازن

    2013-1-21

    We should admit that Egypt needs joint cooperation with Arab countries given that it is going through rocky times which were aggravated after the twenty-fifth January Revolution. In this respect, the Egyptian youth are suffering from unemployment and unable to earn their daily living because the conditions are really dreadful in the country. Therefore, cooperative investments between Egypt and the KSA will bring to the former new ways of advance, progress and economic prosperity. In fact, this cooperation will have positive impacts on the economy since the trade movement will prosper. For instance, establishing investments in Egypt by Saudi businessmen will promote the selling movement in the Egyptian markets as well as tourism and the importation of many Saudi goods. On the other hand, establishing Egyptian investment projects in the KSA will increase the income of Egyptians. Thus, we would like to praise the idea of this fruitful cooperation and I hope that Egypt will conclude further huge investments projects which will benefit Egyptians more than any other people. In the end, all the gratitude and appreciation for them.

  • حسين شتى نصر

    2013-1-19

    I liked it despite that it does not have a specific deadline. As long as there is no deadline, there will be no objectives.

  • خالد سعيد

    2013-1-18

    O God! Save our country and make its people scholars and geniuses.