SINGAPORE: Egypt is aiming for economic growth of about 5 percent in 2010, slightly higher than last year as exports pick up, its trade minister said on Friday.
We are hoping this year to be around 5 percent growth, last year we achieved around 4.5 percent GDP growth, Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Minister for Trade and Industry, told Reuters in an interview in Singapore.
Rachid said he expected the country s exports to increase 10 percent this year, making up for a 10 percent slide in 2009.
Singapore was the last stop in a Southeast Asia trip for Rachid to attract investment, as funds from the Gulf states and Europe – the two biggest investors in Egypt – are expected to slow in the coming years.
We feel the overall environment remains challenging as far as exports and FDI are concerned, Rachid said, having visited Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
Egypt and Singapore agreed to conclude negotiations on a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement within 12-18 months, a pact that could boost bilateral trade to $3-5 billion over a five-year period from less than $1 billion now, Rachid said.
Egypt is economically looking more and more to Asia in areas of trade, investment, services, logistics, infrastructure, tourism. We believe Singapore can play a very significant role as a hub and base for us to link us to some of the major economies.
He said Singaporean firms were looking to invest in Egypt in logistics, ports, water treatment, heathcare and education, and use it as a link to the Middle East, Africa and the Mediterranean.
Singapore is home to water treatment firms such as Hyflux and Keppel Corp, and regional education and heathcare providers such as Raffles Education and Thomson Medical.
Egypt s economy was hurt by a decline in tourism earnings, Suez Canal revenues and foreign investment in the downturn. The economy grew by 4.7 percent in fiscal 2008/2009, down from 7.2 percent in 2007/2008. It plans a third stimulus package, the prime minister has said.
Rachid said Egypt would spend $20 billion over the next five years on infrastructure.