Saudi-Egypt trade relations to strengthen after Mursi calls for all obstacles to be removed
Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi held talks here yesterday with Commerce and Industry Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and instructed his officials to remove all obstacles facing Saudi investment in the country.
Al-Rabiah's meeting with the president was attended by a large number of Saudi businessmen as well as Saudi Ambassador to Cairo Ahmed Kattan and Egyptian Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Hatem Saleh.
"During the meeting the two sides reviewed bilateral relations and ways of strengthening these relations in all areas as well as new investment opportunities in Egypt and prospects of establishing more joint ventures," the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Mursi's spokesman Dr. Yasser Ali said the president had given his instructions to remove all obstacles facing Saudi investment in Egypt. "The president has also instructed to speed up procedures for Saudi investments," he added.
President Mursi called for greater Saudi investment in Egypt and emphasized the need to expand trade exchange between the two countries, the spokesman said.
Al-Rabiah is leading a 50-member business delegation to Egypt including 36 businessmen. During the meeting at the presidential palace, Mursi listened to the problems facing Saudi investment projects worth $ 27 billion in Egypt, especially their investments in the country's privatization projects.
Finance Minister Mumtaz Al-Saeed said the Egyptian side had presented 15 new projects valued at $ 8.5 billion to the Saudi delegation during the meeting.
"We have opened an office in Cairo to solve the problems facing Saudi investors," said Egyptian Investment Minister Osama Saleh, adding that a ministerial team has been set up to resolve the problems of Saudi investors.
"There was a Cabinet decision to establish this office two years ago but it did not happen due to some reasons," Saleh said, adding that the new center would boost Saudi-Egyptian investment projects.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Al-Wakil, president of the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the Saudi-Egyptian Business Council would meet here today to discuss prospects of increasing bilateral trade exchange and joint investment projects.
"The ministerial committee set up by the Egyptian Cabinet will try to resolve all problems facing Saudi investors," he said.
Saudi-Egyptian trade exchange volume amounted to SR 17.7 billion in 2011 when Saudi exports to Egypt reached SR 10.7 billion while Saudi imports from the country amounted to SR 7 billion.
The Cairo talks will also focus on the $ 3 billion Saudi-Egypt Causeway project. "Our delegation will press for speeding up studies on the proposed 32-km causeway," said Abdullah Dahlan, president of Saudi-Egyptian Business Council and a board member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said the causeway project would boost bilateral trade and facilitate travel of Egyptian pilgrims.
The causeway will start from Ras Nassrani in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh and pass by Tiran Strait before reaching Ras Hamid near Tabuk in northern Saudi Arabia.
Egyptian Transport Minister Mohamed Rashad Al-Mateny said a technical committee would meet in late September to discuss first steps to implement the project.