Egyptian Present Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi discussed the country’s plan to create an industrial hub in the area around the Suez Canal when he spoke to Chinese and foreign investors during an international forum on China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Beijing on Friday.
El-Sisi told leaders attending the forum’s opening session on Friday that the Egyptian project, which aims to turn the Canal region into an international industrial and logistics hub, offers Chinese firms and the initiative’s member countries “promising opportunities” as an export hub, especially to those countries with which Egypt has free trade agreements.
He also aimed to allay the concerns of investors, saying that a series of economic reforms the Egyptian government is pushing ahead with are aimed at offering a “favourable environment” for foreign investors seeking to put money into the country.
El-Sisi also cited Egypt’s goal of becoming a regional energy hub, which he said is underpinned by the country’s strategic location straddling the Suez Canal, the fastest shipping route between Asia and Europe.
The president also said that China's initiative is in line with Egypt’s development goals of boosting growth and manufacturing and with the Egypt 2030 Vision, the country’s development plan, which focuses on developing transport, energy and IT infrastructure.
El-Sisi, who currently holds the rotating presidency of the African Union, called for boosting cooperation, infrastructure development and intra-regional trade between African countries under the Belt and Road Initiative.
The Chinese global infrastructure project, launched in 2013, aims to expand links between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond, through billions of dollars in infrastructure investment.
El-Sisi also urged funding bodies to offer financing to African countries under favourable conditions that would not increase their economic burdens.
He referred to the Cape-to-Cairo highway project, which he said had been discussed since the 19th century.
The road, planned to be over 10,000 km long, would start from Egypt's Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea and run through all eastern, central and southern African countries, to reach South Africa. Egyptian officials said the section of the road running from Egypt to the border with Sudan has already been completed.
Also on Friday, El-Sisi met with top Chinese business executives to discuss cooperation opportunities, and his government’s efforts to streamline doing business in the country and remove obstacles facing Chinese investors there.