Sisi, UK's Johnson finalise $150 mln loan to Egypt as part of new support package

Ahram Online , Sunday 26 Feb 2017

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on February 26, 2017 shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi meeting with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at the Presidential palace in the capital Cairo (AFP)

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson finalised a joint declaration agreement on a $150 million loan guarantee to Egypt as part of three new UK support packages to the country, the British embassy in Cairo has said.

In a press release on Sunday, the embassy said that Johnson announced three new support packages focused on the economy, education, and entrepreneurship.

“The $150 million loan will be delivered through UK’s Department for International Development in partnership with Egypt’s Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation to help Egypt complete its programme of economic reforms,” the statement said.

"This forms part of a wider package that also includes $18 million to fund technical expertise to the government of Egypt, to ensure the most vulnerable in society are protected.”

The UK also announced GBP 1.1 million funding for three years to support new and existing social start-ups in Egypt.

On education, Johnson said through the British Council that UK pledges to sign 70 new UK-Egypt university partnerships, to add to the 30 signed in 2016, bringing the total to 100.

It will also increase to GBP 50 million the joint UK-Egypt Newton-Mosharafa Fund that promotes the economic development and social welfare of Egypt through supporting scientific research and innovation.

On his first official visit to Egypt since assuming office in July 2016, the foreign secretary, who arrived on Saturday, met with  El-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

“The UK is a longstanding friend of Egypt. The UK and Egypt have many shared interests, we are Egypt’s top economic partner and strong allies against terrorism and extremist ideas. I look forward to continuing to strengthen the close relationship between our two countries,” Johnson was quoted as saying.

According to the embassy’s statement, El-Sisi and Johnson discussed British support for Egypt’s economy including joint work on aviation security and the global campaign against terrorism; while the British minister “set out his vision of human rights and a free society as the basis for stability and economic growth.”

Shoukry, per a foreign ministry statement, raised the issue of the UK’s suspension of flights to the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh following the deadly crash of a Russian plane in October 2015, which killed 224 on board.

A number of countries suspended flights in the wake of the flight, which crashed after take-off from Sharm El-Sheikh, in an act claimed by Islamic State-affiliated militants.

Germany and Poland have since lifted their flight bans, while Russia and the UK have not.

“Egypt and Britain are natural economic partners with $2 billion of trade each year and $30.5 billion of investment powering the Egyptian economy since 2011,” the British ambassador said in a statement in mid-February.

The foreign secretary’s visit follows a series of visits by senior British officials to Egypt, including the defence secretary, the minister for security, and the UK trade envoy.

Since January, three British business delegations have arrived in Egypt.

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