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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

El Sisi at the BRICS Summit

Did Egypt and Russia just finalize the Dabaa agreement? Egypt and Russia have reportedly finalized their agreement over the USD 30 bn Dabaa nuclear power plant, the Associated Press said on Sunday, citing Russian media reports. The news surfaced after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Xiamen, China, yesterday on the sidelines of the 2017 BRICS Summit. The Russian president welcomed El Sisi’s invitation to attend a ceremony in Egypt to mark the beginning of the plant’s construction once the contracts — which are currently being reviewed by the Egyptian Council of State — are signed, according to an Ittihadiya statement (pdf). Discussions between the two leaders centered around bilateral ties and issues of mutual interest, including the resumption of air travel between Cairo and Moscow, which Putin said he hopes would happen soon.

Soon may not be soon enough: Russian aviation security experts “positively assessed” security at a Cairo airport terminal, Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said on Monday, according to TASS. The minister, however, declined to comment on when air travel would resume, as has been his custom lately.

El Sisi gave a speech (pdf) to BRICS leaders in which he invited investors from their countries to “benefit from the network of trade agreements between Egypt and many partner countries in the Arab region, Africa, and Europe,” and capitalize on the “preferential advantages” made possible by reforms and improvements in the country’s economic and investment climate. El Sisi said that Egypt’s current journey resembles that of other countries including India, pointing specifically to subsidy cuts, high inflation rates, and the strengthening of the social safety net.

El Sisi is attend the signing of three MoUs that will see China invest c. USD 11.2 bn in projects for the administrative capital, AMAY reports. Those agreement reportedly include a funding agreement for the new electric rail linking Salam City with the new capital (for which the China Export-Import Bank is providing USD 739) and a USD 300 mn grant to support the launch of a satellite. Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker signed an agreement which will see China help Egypt boost the capabilities of its national electrical grid. He is also expected to meet with Chinese investors today.

More flights from China in the cards? Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed said that negotiations are underway to put on three additional flights a week between Cairo and Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou, as well as to increase air traffic from China to the Red Sea and Mediterranean coasts. Meanwhile, the central tourism authority in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region also signed an MoU with the Egyptian Tourism Authority yesterday that will see both sides cooperate to boost tourism. The agreement with the small northern region came after Tourism Promotion Authority chief Hisham El Demery’s participation in an annual Egypt-China tourism expo in Beijing, in the hopes of attracting more Chinese visitors, Al Borsa says.

Next up on El Sisi’s Asia tour is Hanoi from 6-9 September,where he’ll be meeting with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and other officials.

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