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Thursday, 12 November 2020

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade on 12 November 2020

El Sisi’s visit to Greece is leading diplomatic coverage this morning: Egypt and Greece are hoping that the incoming Biden administration will take a more “decisive” approach to current tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said yesterday. “I believe that Greece and Egypt will welcome and have a positive attitude toward the determination of America’s contribution to the events of the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean in our troubled region,” he said at a press conference during President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s diplomatic visit. Both countries have pushed back against Turkey’s gas exploration efforts in the region this year, and tensions over long-standing territorial disputes have escalated. El Sisi made no mention Joe Biden during his statement to reporters, but — without name-checking — accused a certain country in the region of breaking international law and supporting terrorism. The Associated Press and Reuters have coverage.

Egypt is busy trying to curry favor with the incoming administration though, signing a USD 65k-per-month contract with heavyweight lobbying group Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck on Monday, according to a Department of Justice filing (pdf). The firm, staffed by veteran Washington insiders including retired Republican congressman Ed Royce, will "provide government relations services and strategic counsel on matters before the US government" for one year.

Egypt has locked down USD 7.3 bn of finance this year geared towards advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the International Cooperation Ministry said in a statement (pdf). The agreements, which include USD 4.5 bn to finance government investments and another USD 2.7 bn for the private sector, are earmarked for several projects in priority areas. This includes USD 477 mn for healthcare development, including a USD 400 mn World Bank loan for the country’s universal healthcare scheme, as well as several packages from USAID to support the Egyptian Red Crescent, purchase ventilators for covid-19 patients, and fund scientific research.

Other goals the funding is earmarked for: Developing sustainable cities and communities, building resilient infrastructure and promoting inclusive industrialization, taking action on climate change, and encouraging gender equality.

Egypt aims to increase the value of its annual exports to Africa to USD 30 bn within three to five years,said Abdel Aziz El Sherif, an official at the Trade Ministry’s Egyptian Commercial Service, according to MENA. Exports of chemical products and fertilizers are projected to reach USD 5 to 6 bn annually, he said.

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