INTERVIEW - Innovation and youth are top priorities for both presidents: Ambassador of Romania to Egypt

Doaa Mohamed , Sunday 28 Apr 2024

Ambassador of Romania to Egypt Olivia Toderean said in an interview with Ahram Online that both countries enjoy a longstanding partnership, marked by significant agreements and trade exchanges, highlighting their solid bilateral relations and upcoming initiatives.

 Ambassador of Romania to Egypt

 

Ahram Online: What is the main economic cooperation between Egypt and Romania?

Ambassador Toderean: I am pleased to highlight the robust economic cooperation between Romania and Egypt. Our countries have enjoyed a longstanding partnership, marked by significant agreements and trade exchanges.

For the past couple of years, Egypt has emerged as the biggest commercial partner for Romania on the entire African continent and one of the top in the Middle East.

 In 2023, the trade volume reached $1.10 billion, with around $582 million of exports from Romania to Egypt and $521 million of imports from Egypt to Romania.

Overall, the economic cooperation between Romania and Egypt is multifaceted and continues to grow, driven by mutual interests and the desire to strengthen bilateral ties in traditional and completely new fields.

AO: Can you highlight the main cultural agreements and collaborations between Egypt and Romania?

Ambassador Toderean: On the cultural level, there is an interest in providing common platforms for artists, writers, and performers from Romania and Egypt to showcase their talents and promote cultural dialogue.

We are working on multiplying cooperation between Romanian and Egyptian universities, including joint degrees in new and promising fields (like an MBA in the energy sector).

I will work hard to see more universities, researchers, and students getting in contact with each other. I deeply believe it is time to pass on this traditional, strong friendship between Romania and Egypt to the next generations of people in their 30s or 20s, who know less about each other.

Additionally, I look forward to initiating cultural projects that will reach out to large numbers of Egyptians. Innovation and youth are top priorities for both our presidents; together with my team at the embassy, we are looking for projects to showcase these areas, in our bilateral ties.
 

AO: What advice would you offer the Romanian investors seeking business in Egypt?

Ambassador Toderean: Investing in Egypt can be a rewarding endeavor, but Romanian investors should understand market characteristics and navigate the business environment effectively, given the important economic and financial reforms your country is going through, led by his excellency President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his excellency the prime minister.

Some key advice I would offer to Romanian investors considering investments in Egypt is to understand the market dynamics and leverage the strategic location.

Egypt's strategic location at the crossroads between Africa, the Middle East, and Europe offers significant advantages for investors; Egyptian ports provide access to international trade routes; and the Suez Canal facilitates the movement of goods between Asia and Europe.

Investors can benefit from government incentives, as the Egyptian government offers various incentives and investment facilitation measures to attract foreign investors.

These include tax incentives, custom duty exemptions, and streamlined administrative procedures.

Romanian investors should explore these incentives and engage with government agencies such as the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) to take advantage of available benefits.

AO: What future projects and agreements are horizon for Egypt and Romania?

Ambassador Toderean: My priorities are furthering the excellent political dialogue at all appropriate levels, and on all relevant subjects for our countries, whether bilateral, regional, or global; enhancing economic relations to increase the trade volume in traditional fields and open new areas of cooperation; and reaching out to the wider Egyptian society to strengthen cultural exchange between our two countries.

With these priorities, you will observe many projects, activities, and agreements in economics, energy, health, agriculture, culture, and education.

AO: Are there any scheduled visits between the two countries soon?

Ambassador Toderean: Our countries regularly engage in high-level visits and exchanges, which deepen our bilateral ties and enhance cooperation in various regional and international issues.

Romania and Egypt are active members of different organizations and international forums, where we often find common ground on different foreign affairs dossiers.

We have a keen interest in hosting a meeting between our two foreign ministers in 2024 to pursue implementing the decisions taken by our presidents in 2021 and prime ministers in 2023.

We are also advancing preparations for the fourth session of the joint economic committee to be organized in Bucharest soon.



 

AO: Can you share your opinion about Egypt’s great achievements and economic reforms under the leadership of President El-Sisi?

Ambassador Toderean: I am privileged to witness firsthand the remarkable progress and achievements that Egypt, under the leadership of President El-Sisi, has made in recent years.

Despite facing significant challenges in one of the most difficult contexts in decades, Egypt has made significant progress in various sectors, including economic development, financial and institutional reforms, infrastructure modernization, providing security for its people, and accepting humanitarian refugees from so many neighbouring crises.

AO: What are the significant activities and future initiatives of the embassy of Romania in Cairo?

Ambassador Toderean: I am delighted to share the recent cultural events in Egypt, highlighting our commitment to fostering cultural exchange.

First, for our community in Egypt, we have recently organized a vibrant cultural event, bringing together members of the Romanian diaspora and our Egyptian friends to celebrate 1 March, the first day of spring.

Additionally, during the Francophonie month, we actively promoted French language and culture through various activities, including a movie screening and a theatrical performance.

Romania is one of Europe's most active Francophone countries and among the 88 members of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, so we wanted to show the same activism in Cairo as well.

We believe cultural diplomacy enhances people-to-people connections and fosters mutual respect and cooperation between nations. 

New projects in film-making, theatre, photography, and design will be announced in 2024.

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