CAIRO: A delegation from the Kazakh Ministry of Transportation and the Civil Aviation Authority will visit Egypt next week to mull possibilities of running direct flights between Cairo and Astana, said Kazakh Ambassador in Cairo Baghdad Amreyev.
Amreyev was speaking to a high-level delegation from the Kazakh government and a group of Egyptian businessmen working in cotton, textile, spinning and flex at a dinner he hosted at his residence last night.
The aviation delegation is to meet with high-level officials at the Civil Aviation Authority, Ministry of Transportation, and the national carrier EgyptAir, the ambassador added.
There are still a lot of options to be studied, Amreyev noted.
Transportation between Egypt and Kazakhstan poses the biggest problem to trade which rose to more than $200 million at the beginning of this year.
President Hosni Mubarak visited Astana last November, a visit soon reciprocated by President Nursultan Nazarbayev to Cairo last March.
The presidents visits, together with setting up a joint business council under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Trade, pushed trade relations between the two countries to unprecedented levels.
Egypt now imports wheat and copper from Kazakhstan and exports corn. There are prospects of joint investments in Kazakhstan to produce marble, textiles, reconstruction material and furniture.
Imports to Egypt now come through Russia. In the past, they used to come via Iran.
Although transporting goods via air will be expensive, Mounir Ezz El-Din, head of the industrial committee at the Egyptian Businessmen Association (EBA), said that setting up a direct airline will facilitate contacts and visits between the two countries.
There are direct flights now between Almaty and Dubai and between Almaty and Istanbul. Charter flights also carry about 20,000 Kazakh tourists a year to Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh, the ambassador said.
Rashid Nur Ghazief, head of the visiting delegation and the head of the Lands Division at the Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture, explained to the Egyptian businessmen that his government gives away industrial land free in Kazakhstan for about 10 years. This is done in order for investors to build their projects and start exporting abroad to Russian, central Asian and European markets.
The agricultural land is given at a rate of $1,000 per hectare [10,000 square meters], he added.
Ezz El-Din raised the idea of setting up clusters in the fields of spinning, weaving, textiles, exporting long stable cotton from Egypt to Kazakhstan and importing short stable cotton and fine flex fibers from Kazakhstan to Egypt.
The clusters can later set up a commercial company in the free trade area, south of Kazakhstan, with the aim of exporting their products to nearby markets, he explained.