China played a key role in helping us close the USD 12 bn IMF loan through a currency swap agreement with China. With that, China moved beyond being a key economic partner, to a strategic ally. The currency swap would be for a total amount of CNY 18 bn (equivalent to around USD 2.62 bn) against the equivalent in EGP. For Egypt, the three-year agreement (with an option to extend) was vital in meeting the USD 6 bn in third-party funding required by the IMF to approve the loan.
The agreement was the crowning achievement in a year which saw Cairo and Beijing grow increasingly close. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi signed 21 bilateral agreements and MoUs with Chinese President Xi Jinping during El Sisi’s state visit in January, potentially worth up to USD 15 bn. These projects would be primarily geared towards electricity and transportation projects. On the banking front, China has signed a USD 1 bn financing agreement with the CBE and will lend USD 700 mn to National Bank of Egypt. Earlier this month, Banque Misr closed in on USD 1 bn in financing agreements with Chinese institutions.
Over 100 Chinese firms pledged to invest as much as USD 2.5 bn in the Suez Canal Economic Zone. Among the largest agreements signed in 2016 for China Fortune Land Development to invest USD 20 bn to develop and manage 14,000 feddans in phase two of the New Administrative Capital. Furthermore, Egypt signed on to the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a key Chinese foreign policy initiative, and Asian power’s One Belt, One Road economic and trade cooperation initiative.