Photograph — middleeasteye

Egypt expects the United Kingdom to become one of its principal investment partners in many of the country’s 14 new cities. Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s Investment and International Cooperation Minister, has therefore undertaken an “investment promotional trip” to the UK, where she met with her UK counterpart Graham Stuart.

Nasr was particular about British involvement in Egypt’s infrastructure and transport sectors throughout the new 14 cities being implemented, the new administrative capital among them. The two government representatives also reportedly discussed increasing British investments in Egypt’s education sector, with an eye to solidifying exchanges between universities in both countries.

Noting Egypt’s strategic position on the UK’s diplomacy map, Stuart voiced his support for ongoing economic developments under president Sisi, promising to arrange many investment-led visits to Egypt in the near future.

Earlier, Nasr had met with the British Secretary of State for MENA, Andrew Murrison, where they discussed intensifying cooperation across SMEs, increasing scholarships for Egyptian students in British Universities, as well as supporting a greater number of women-led projects in the country.

These talks could see a dramatic increase in the trade exchange between both countries, after last year’s phenomenal £1.3 billion recorded in the first half of 2018 alone, according to Industry and Trade Minister Amr Nassar, a hefty improvement on trade exchange for the whole of 2017, put at £1.86 billion.

These talks are also natural next steps, following recent efforts. In November 2018, British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) organized a 3-day “knock door mission” to the UK, a delegation that comprised Egypt’s Finance Minister and some 50 Egyptian companies. The visit was an opportunity for investors from both sides to review the performance of previous agreements as well as establish new ties. BEBA board Member Khaled Zaki had called Britain “the biggest foreign investor in Egypt,” noting their significant investments in petro-gas, tech, banking and medical sectors.

Interestingly, the UK had been a slow adjuster to Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s administration, waiting two years before officially receiving him at 10 Downing Street. The big turnaround happened in 2017 when then UK minister of state to MENA Alistair Burt published an article in Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, calling for greater cooperation between both nations. Since then, their friendship has grown warmer. While it remains unclear how much of this renewed bilateral trade frenzy is due to sword-of-Damocles Brexit, Egypt will not be shy in taking full advantage, as the country’s economy continues an upwards trajectory.

By Caleb Ajinomoh

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