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HomeInternational exchangeCo-operation projects
Egypt seeks bilateral benefits with China in Belt, Road initiative
From::Global Times  Writer:Lu Wen'ao Wei Xi  Date:2017-05-12
Being a country rich in historic relics as well as tourist sites, Egypt is widely considered as a tourist destination for many.

But after two deadly attacks on churches in Tanta and Alexandria that killed 45 in April, Egypt has declared a three-month state of emergency, ­leading many tourists to drop their travel plans.

However, Egyptian Ambassador to China Osama Elmagdoub has ­reassured that Egypt is still safe in an interview with the Global Times.

"The touristic sites in Egypt are safe and secured," Elmagdoub told the Global Times. "The procedures to visit Egypt are easy, and we facilitated the issuing of visas."


Egyptian Ambassador to China Osama Elmagdoub Photo: Li Hao/GT

"The number of [outbound] ­Chinese tourists is about 120 million every year, we want 1 percent of this number," Elmagdoub said.

In 2016, when Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Egypt - the first Arab and African country to establish diplomatic relations with China in 1956 - the two sides signed a total of 18 agreements and MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding), according to the ambassador.

"We are doing our best to implement those agreements," he said.

Riding on the comprehensive ­strategic partnership, Egypt has set their sights on more bilateral efforts along with the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative.

Belt and Road cooperation

Egypt has came up with its own ­development plan, focusing on industrialization, technology, and creativity, which is in alignment to the goals of the Belt and Road Initiative in building infrastructure and enhancing connectivity.

"Cooperation with China will help us to make this dream come true," said Elmagdoub. "The cooperation will run as smoothly as ever between the two countries with the two ancient civilizations."

Among the infrastructure construction programs, the project of establishing industrial zones in the Suez Canal development corridor has been put under the spotlight.

"A new port is built in this area with the help of Chinese companies," said Elmagdoub. "Logistical hubs are also in the plan and there are negotiations with some Chinese companies to be involved in these projects."

The ambassador also noted that the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to attend the upcoming "BRICS" summit to be held in ­September in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province.

"We would like to see more improvement in trade between China and Egypt," said Elmagdoub. "The trade balance is heavily tilted in favor of China."

The trade volume between the two countries is about $12 billion, in which $11 billion is from China's exports to Egypt, according to the ambassador.

"We are open to all ideas that benefit both countries," he said.

Benefits for citizens

The initiative, which brings more employment opportunities, will also benefit the ordinary citizens in Egypt, Elmagdoub believes.

"The foreign investment projects may not employ more than 10 percent of its workforce as foreigners or pay such foreign employees more than 20 percent of the total payroll with the exception of those foreigners employed as managers," he said. "Those foreign employees are required to train the Egyptian staff and to help in raising qualified cadres."

Many are still concerned about the investment environment in Egypt, but Elmagdoub vowed the Egyptian government­ is doing its best to facilitate all the procedures.

"Investment in Egypt is safe, there are no risks," said Elmagdoub. "There might be some difficulties, but the government is doing its best to pave the way for investors."

Elmagdoub said the Egyptian government has already taken some steps to reform the economy, including floating the Egyptian pound and rationalization of subsidies.

"These steps are the bitter medicine we have to take. The revenues on investment in Egypt are among the highest in the world, and we offer many facilities to attract investments."

Focus on archeology

As both countries are rich in history and boast a large number of ­heritage sites, Egypt and China share a lot in common in the field of archaeology.

"Cooperation in archeology should have started a long time ago so we could benefit from each other's expertise and technological advancement," said Elmagdoub.

On the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2016, the China-Egypt Cultural Year was launched, which boosted cooperation on archaeology.

The Chinese Institute of Archaeology signed a cooperation agreement with the Egyptian ­Ministry of Antiquities in 2016, which is aimed to facilitate visits and exchange of knowledge between experts in both countries.

An MOU was signed between the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Shanghai for the protection of cultural property, digital authentication and the exchange of scientific research studies, publications and scholarships between both countries.

The ambassador also said that there are approximately 250 international archeological missions in Egypt engaged in excavation, monuments restoration and other works at the moment.

And in the southern city of Luxor alone, they have 11 archaeological missions working there. A Chinese team is going there too.

According to the Egyptian Embassy, the two sides have agreed in 2016 that China would send its first archeological mission to Egypt to conduct excavation woks in collaboration with the Egyptian archeologists at Precinct of Montu, a part of Karnak temple in Luxor - the site of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes.

Yet, this is not the only site for excavation works in Egypt.

"In fact, there is a major program to survey the Valley of Kings, using new equipment to uncover hidden royal tombs. It is expected to lead to new discoveries, and Egypt welcomes Chinese experts to take part in the project," the ambassador said.

Appraising the achievements China has made in advancement in archeology, he said that "especially excavation, using 3D remote sensing and imaging, and radar technologies," adding that cooperation with China will be a milestone in the history of bilateral cultural exchanges.


 
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