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Sunday, 2 September 2018

El Sisi signs five cooperation agreements with Chinese President Xi Jinping

Egypt, China sign cooperation agreements worth bns: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping witnessed the signing yesterday of cooperation agreements ahead of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in Beijing, according to an Ittihadiya statement. While the presidency confirmed no detail of the pacts, information has filtered into the local press, with MENA reporting that five agreements were signed in areas including energy and housing. Other sources, including Al Masdar, say the agreements are worth an estimated USD 21.9 bn. These include:

  • Building a refinery: The Oil Ministry signed a USD 7.1 bn agreement to develop with China a refinery at the Suez Canal Economic Zone.
  • USD 4.4 bn Hamrawein “clean coal” power plant: Electricity Ministry sources had previously said that a consortium made up of Hassan Allam Construction, China’s Shanghai Electric and Dongfang Electric will source 78% of the USD 4.4 bn needed to build the plant through Chinese financiers, with the balance (around USD 950 mn) set to be acquired through local banks.
  • USD 2.7 bn hydroelectric plant: A USD 2.7 bn agreement to help develop the pumped-storage hydroelectric plant in Attaqa.
  • Business district in new capital goes to Chinese: A USD 3.5 bn agreement to develop the second phase of the new administrative capital business district and pledges for USD 3 bn in investments in the development of phase one of the district. An MoU with the China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation was signed to help provide funding for the project.
  • USD 450 mn in new assistance to help improve Egypt’s electricity grid.
  • High-speed rail line: A USD 673.2 mn loan from China to develop a high-speed electric railway line linking 10 Ramadan to the new capital. The Chinese will also provide a USD 51.2 mn grant for the project.
  • A USD 45 mn agreement to develop the Nile Sat 2 satellite.

Four new contracts are also set to be inked during the president’s visit to Beijing. These include a contract to build a textiles factory with China’s Shandong Ruyi Technology Group, Suez Canal Economic Zone Vice Chairman Mahfoz Taha tells Xinhua. Other contracts include another textiles factory, a factory for gypsum board production, and a fourth for construction materials production.

The agreements have caused a stir in the local press and on the airwaves as the talking heads zero in on how they represent a “new era of cooperation” between the two sides. Former diplomat Gamal Bayoumi told Al Hayah fi Masr that the agreements would help with our current account deficit and balance of trade, adding that Egypt needs Chinese expertise to advance in many fields (watch, runtime: 9:22). Al Shorouk editor-in-chief Emad Al Din Hussein made the rounds of the talk shows last night to praise the agreements (watch, runtime: 35:24), which were also covered on Al Hayah fi Masr (watch, runtime: 1:47).

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