The Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) will establish a subsidiary company to work as an investment and commercial arm to channel funds for projects along the Canal, said Yehia Zaki, chairman of the SCZone, last week.
“We will study the mechanisms that can push investments in the zone forward amid current developments,” Zaki added during a meeting in Cairo on Sunday organised by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) to discuss the SCZone’s five-year strategic plan.
Currently, the investment value of the industrial zones in the SCZone is estimated at $17 billion, with 14 industrial developers and 247 operational establishments on an area of 239 square km creating 70,000 job opportunities.
Zaki praised the government’s support for the SCZone through building a strong infrastructure, including seven power stations and 13 power-distribution units, two desalination plants and two water-treatment plants, establishing tunnels and bridges to support the transportation network, and expanding the telecommunications and natural-gas networks.
There are four industrial zones and six ports in the SCZone, with the canal itself seeing 18,000 ships pass through each year, or approximately 10 per cent of global trade.
Zaki said that he expected negotiations over the Russian industrial zone east of Port Said, which will be established on an area of 5.25 square km with investments expected to total about $7 billion, to be finalised soon.
Meanwhile, the establishment of a Japanese industrial zone is still under consideration. The SCZone signed a contract with the Japanese Toyota Group last month to establish a roll-on, roll-off terminal in East Port Said at an investment cost of about $160 million.
An agreement with Dubai World on a deal to develop the port areas is also underway with a potential investment of $600 million.
Connectivity between East and West Port Said, as well as the north and south of the SCZone, is a top priority, according to Zaki. There are several projects to be announced soon that will aim to increase their connectivity, he said.
As part of its 2020-2025 plans, the SCZone will focus on improving the legal framework for investment in the zone over the next five years and will discuss with the government ways to offer new tax incentives and other facilitations for investors.
Investing in the zone has many competitive advantages, including financial and non-financial incentives, customs exemptions, and trade agreements that enable regional and international markets to be reached at competitive prices.
Additionally, Zaki stated that the SCZone will focus in the next five years on the engineering industries and petrochemicals sectors, and that it is planning to carry out several investment promotion tours to Asian, European and African companies.
President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi will inaugurate the SCZone Economic Conference that will take place in Galala City on 7 March. Zaki said the Conference would be a great opportunity to show off the latest developments and investment opportunities in the zone as a way of establishing it as a global logistics hub.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 16 January, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.