CAIRO: A group of Egyptian businessmen and representative of Chinese public companies signed 11 deals worth $30 million to export different products from Egypt, including marble, granite, oranges, linen, phosphates and petrochemicals. The signing ceremony, held Thursday night at the Four Seasons Hotel, was attended by Tao Hucheng, Chinese vice minister of commerce, and Mohammed Mansour, Egyptian deputy minister of trade along with Ahmed El-Sewedy, chairman of the Egyptian side of the Egyptian-Chinese Business Council. At his inaugural speech, Mansour voiced appreciation of Tao’s visit, which began about four days ago leading a delegation of 25 representatives of Chinese companies.
“The visit is a step in a process reflecting the keenness of the two sides to step up trade exchange . We hope this would mark the start of joint ventures by the two sides, he said. The signing of 11 agreements, including citrus fruits for the first time, is part of a deal reached by the Egyptians and Chinese during President Mubarak’s visit to China last year to facilitate Egyptian exports to China and adjust the trade balance between the two countries.
Sino-Egyptian trade exchange amounted to $3.2 billion last year, from which Egyptian exports totaled only $220 million. This is the first time deals worth $30 million are signed between the two sides as one package, Tao said. The council is vying to increase trade and joint ventures between the Egyptians and Chinese by breaking the ice, El-Sewedy said, adding that businessmen from both sides are mulling setting up joint ventures in special industrial zones. The deals are to be finalized in a few months if not less, he said. He also announced that the council would organize a trip to China at the end of April for more tête-à-tête talks with their Chinese counterparts.
“What we are trying to get from China is the heavy machinery and technical expertise, El-Sewedy said. “Losing China is as if you lost the world . One cannot do without the Chinese now, he added. Other Chinese delegations are expected to visit Egypt in the coming period, one to be headed by the head of parliament, an official source from the Egyptian Ministry of Trade said. During the signing ceremony, El-Sewedy also announced that a loan agreement was signed with the Chinese side to build a Chinese school in Menoufia governorate.