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Sunday, 13 June 2021

How France wants to be among our top trading partners

Egypt and France sign near EUR 4 bn in bilateral agreements and contracts: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi signed a little under EUR 4 bn worth of bilateral agreements this afternoon with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. The agreements most notably cover transportation, but also in social security and development, Le Maire told Enterprise in a sit down this morning. These agreements represent a breakthrough in the economic relationship between our two countries, Le Maire says, adding that both sides have been working hard towards the agreements over the past six months.

Cairo Metro gets a chunk of funding: The French government will be providing Egypt with EUR 2 bn in credit facilities that will go towards developing the Cairo Metro Line 6, Le Maire says. He emphasized that France was willing to provide the facility under “attractive terms” to fund work on the metro line by French companies, in a bid to encourage active participation by French companies on the project. An agreement was signed with Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir that would see us develop a six month roadmap to disburse funding for the Cairo Metro Line 6 and upgrades to Cairo Metro Line 1, Le Maire added.

EUR 1 bn in infrastructure funding: The French Development Agency (AFD) will be providing Egypt with EUR 1 bn in loans that cover railway, energy, wastewater treatment, and food security. These include funding to upgrade railway lines running from Aswan to the Delta. The funding will be provided over the course of four years from 2021 to 2025, Le Maire adds.

More still to come: “President El Sisi and I had a very fruitful meeting back in 2019, where we agreed that our common goal was to diversify our economic relationship,” said Le Maire. “I see three things which might be of interest. The first is healthcare. The AFD will provide EUR 150 mn to support the rollout of Egypt’s Universal Healthcare System. This is one of Egypt’s most promising projects, and we want to be part of it,” he added.

Renewables and urban development are also on the table: The area of future economic cooperation France is interested in exploring with us is renewable energy, Le Maire tells us. “Here too, there are many prospects that could be developed.” “The third is urban development and the development of new cities. President El Sisi has introduced key projects in that field, and we want to be part of this,” he added.

France already is big on renewables here and plans to do more: Renewables currently make up 10% of the EUR 5 bn French companies currently invest in Egypt, French Ambassador to Egypt Stéphane Romatet told Enterprise last week. He hopes that figure to rise to 20% in five years driven by technology including green hydrogen. French and Egyptian specialists, including regulators and electricity ministry representatives, are cooperating on developing Egypt’s national hydrogen strategy, he told us.

READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WHEN IT COMES OUT THIS WEEK- In it, Le Maire tells us of his administration’s ambitions to make France among Egypt’s top three trading partners from a current eighth. He explains to us why France has been accelerating its economic cooperation with us over the past four years and where he wishes to see this cooperation go. We also talk about what the G7 tax agreement could mean for us. You don’t want to miss it.

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