China-Arab Summit 'new starting point' for economic cooperation between the two sides: Sisi

Amr Kandil , Friday 9 Dec 2022

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has called for enhancing the ongoing partnerships between Arab countries and China, saying the Arab-China Summit at the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Friday was a "new starting point" for economic cooperation between the two sides.



During his speech at the summit, The Egyptian president hailed Arab-Chinese cooperation in all fields, including the economic, development, political, and cultural aspects, noting that China is the leading trade partner for a large number of Arab countries.

“I call on everyone today to consider this summit a new starting point for economic cooperation between the Arab world and China,” El-Sisi stated.

El-Sisi called for sparing no effort to enhance and support the ongoing Arab-China partnerships, chief among which are the Belt and Road initiative and the Global Development initiative, given the investment opportunities they offer in various fields.

“Our will to enhance the joint institutional cooperation was embodied in the establishment of ‘The China-Arab States Cooperation Forum’ in 2004. Today, this will has reached its climax with the first China-Arab Summit,” El-Sisi stated.

The China-Arab summit was hosted by Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and attended by leaders or representqatives of the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in addition to a host of Arab leaders or their representatives from Sudan, Iraq, Tunisia, Somalia among others.

The summit was held shortly after the conclusion of the first China-GCC earlier in the afternoon.

Speaking at the summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping said trade exchange between Arab countries and China over the past decade has totalled $300 billion, while direct joint investments amounting to $27 billion.

The Chinese president stressed that 200 projects have been implemented between the two sides as part of the Belt and Road initiative.

Supporting Palestinian cause

El-Sisi also hailed China’s “balanced” position toward the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people’s legitimate right to establish their independent state based on the 4 June 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

He affirmed that the Chinese position in this regard has been highly appreciated and respected by the Arab World.

During the summit, President Xi called for the need to strictly adhere to the two-state solution, affirming China’s support for Palestinian bid to obtain full UN membership, reported the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Also, Secretary-General of the League of Arab State Ahmed Abul-Gheit praised China’s continuous support for the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights in a speech during the summit.

He urged China to make use of all of its political weight on the international arena to push for the launch of a peaceful and credible process to end the longstanding occupation of Palestinian lands.

Abul-Gheit also invited China to support the Palestinian bid for full UN membership.

He stressed that the current situation in the occupied Palestinian lands is unsustainable, with no horizon for a political settlement on the basis of the two-state solution.

“This [situation] threatens a dangerous eruption that will not be in the interest of stability in the Middle East,” Abul-Gheit warned.

GERD, Arab water security

El-Sisi renewed calls for Ethiopia to engage in good faith with Egypt and Sudan to reach a legally binding agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

“I renew the call for the brothers in Ethiopia to necessarily engage in good faith with Egypt and Sudan to reach a legally binding agreement that ensures the right of development of the current and future generations and spare them what threatens their stability, security and integrity,” El-Sisi said.

The president also called for placing the Arab water security file on top of priorities of Arab-Chinese cooperation in the future as part of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF).

El-Sisi also called for technical, economic and political cooperation to face the Arab water security challenge.

Egypt and Sudan have rejected unilateral Ethiopian actions, including, this year, the third phase of filling the dam's 74-billion-cubic-metre reservoir and on operating the dam turbines without the consent of both countries.

In a meeting earlier on Friday ahead of the summit, El-Sisi and head of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan reiterated the need to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of GERD.

Cooperation on global issues

During his speech, El-Sisi hailed the convergence of views on regional issues between the Chinese and Arab sides.

He called on both sides to cooperate on addressing regional crises in Libya, Syria, Yemen and other areas suffering from terrorism in order to end suffering, bring peace and security and prioritise development.

In his speech, President Xi called for enhancing cooperation between the Arab countries and China amid the turbulent world situation and developments in the Middle East.

The Chinese president affirmed China’s support to the efforts of Arab countries to explore means of development, highlighting the necessity of non-interference in internal affairs of countries and in preserving the interests of developing countries.

He also highlighted the need for cooperation between both sides to reject Islamophobia, end extremism and terrorism and support the humanitarian values of peace, development, justice, democracy and freedom.

Egyptian-Chinese cooperation

Egyptian-Chinese ties have witnessed noticeable growth in the past several years in the domains of infrastructure, energy, trade and others.

El Sisi visited China seven times during 2014-2022 to promote Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries and Chinese investments in Egypt.

China has recently lauded the economic and structural reforms in the country in addition to the developmental accomplishments achieved in Egypt, including major national projects that contributed to increasing the rates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and exports.

China also lauded the country's efforts to boost the investment environment, shrink unemployment rates, raise its credit classification and foster trust of the international financial institution in the ability of the Egyptian economy to continue growth and face internal and external challenges.

Beijing has asserted its keenness to contribute to major national projects in Egypt and benefit from the unique geographic position of Egypt, especially the Suez Canal, to push forward the Belt and Road Initiative and boost trade between its contributing countries.

According to a report released by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) on Thursday on the eve of the China-Arab Summit, Egypt's exports to China registered $1.5 billion in the first nine months of 2022, compared to $1.1 billion in the same period of 2021, marking an increase of 36.7 percent.

CAPMAS stated that Egypt's imports from China hit $11.1 billion from January to September 2022, against $10.7 billion in the corresponding period of 2021, recording an increase of 3.8 percent.

The agency stated that trade exchange between Egypt and China hit $12.7 billion from January to September 2022, versus $11.9 billion in the same period of 2021, recording an increase of 9.8 percent

It explained that China's total investments in Egypt hit $563.4 million in the fiscal year (FY) 2021/2022, compared to $485.2 million in the fiscal year (FY) 2020/2021, marking an increase of 16.1 percent.

CAPMAS also pointed out that the total remittances of Egyptians working in China stood at $12.7 million in FY 2020/2021, against $12.8 million in FY 2019/2020. 

Cooperation fields between Egypt and China include electricity, petroleum, natural gas, railways, highways, ports, mineral industries, construction materials, chemical industries, lighting equipment, textile and home appliances.

According to an earlier statement by the Egyptian Presidency, El-Sisi’s participation in the China-Arab Summit reflects Egypt's keenness to strengthen and develop the distinguished historical relations between Arab countries and China.

El-Sisi's participation also aims to strengthen joint action mechanisms to achieve common interests, the presidency added

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