Egypt asks for UK support over EU debt relief

AP, MENA, Tuesday 22 Feb 2011

Finance minister hopes for cancellation of interest, if not entire debt

Egypt's finance minister says he would like Britain's support in seeking the cancellation of its debt with the European Union.

A statement released by the Finance Ministry on Tuesday said Samir Radwan discussed the issue with British trade and investment minister Lord Stephen Green a day earlier.

Radwan said Egypt was at least hoping for the cancellation of interest payments, if not its entire debt to Europe.

Radwan confirmed that the government is continuing the process of economic reforms started in 2004  which helped raise economic growth to seven per cent before the global financial crisis.

He indicated that the government's policy now focuses on two dimensions. The first is to tackle the economic implications of the current crisis by compensating those with damaged property or who lost their jobs.

The second focuses on regaining fast economic growth and creating jobs for Egyptian youth through a national program for employment.

The discussion occurred during a meeting between the Minister and Lord Green and an accompanying delegation of 15 businessmen from economic, education and management sectors.

Radwan also requested the British business community increase their investments in the Egyptian market.

In reply, Lord Green stressed the attraction of Egypt's skilled labourforce and indicated British companies and investment were seriously considering expanding operations in Egypt as soon as conditions stabilise.

Green added that Britain is considered Egypt's biggest partner in terms of trade and investments and that British tourists are among the country's most frequent visitors.  He noted that Britain has no prohibitions on travel to Egypt due to recent events and that some tourists are already returning to Sharm El-Sheikh.

He also expressed the British government's confidence that Egypt would quickly recover political and economic stability as well as its reputation as a safe tourist destination.

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