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Egypt's economic meeting brings billions of USD in investments

Editor: Chen Yue 丨Xinhua

03-16-2015 07:16 BJT

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, March 15 (Xinhua) -- As the three-day Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) ended on Sunday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, the total value of the investment deals agreed at the meeting hit about 60 billion U.S. dollars.

During his speech at the end of the conference, Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said 36.2-billion-dollar agreements of direct investments were signed and are scheduled to be launched immediately.

"The conference also managed to get agreements on funded projects worth 18.6 billion dollars and grants and loans worth 5.2 billion dollars," he added.

Mahlab noted that the total agreements hit about 60 billion dollars, adding that the large turnout of international and regional corporations at the EEDC shows that Egypt is on the right track.

Before the meeting kicked off, Egypt aimed to lure foreign direct investment to the tune of 60 billion dollars and to reach an average growth rate of seven percent over the next four years.

Egypt's economy has been suffering over the past four years that witnessed mass protests from 2011 when its long-time ruler, Hosni Mubarak, was removed. In 2013, then President and the Muslim Brotherhood-oriented leader Mohamed Morsi was ousted by military in response to nationwide demonstrations.

Since then, the country's annual economic growth hovered around two percent, with sharp declines in foreign reserve, overseas investment and revenues of vital sectors, such as tourism.

The conference, proposed by the late Saudi Arabia King Abdullah last year, is one of Cairo's centerpieces to lure overseas investment so as to improve its staggering economy and social disorder.

Earlier in the day, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi invited developed countries to finance the facilitated investment projects in the most populous Arab country.

With reforms of the subsidies and taxation systems which aim to ease the pressure on the public budget during Sisi's tenure, Egypt displayed positive signs in growth rate of 5.6 percent in the first half of current fiscal year, with the number of tourists traveling to the country bouncing back in recent months.

"I invite developed economies to think about contributing to finance projects in Egypt carried out by their companies in a facilitated way to be paid off (by Egypt) over long years," Sisi said in a statement on the concluding day of the EEDC.

"Do not think that Egypt needs less than 200 to 300 billion dollars to be rebuilt, so that the 90 million Egyptians can live, work and enjoy for real," Sisi added.

Sensing the success of the economic meeting, Sisi said Egypt will host this gathering every year in the same place the same time "not only for Egypt, but to be an annual economic gathering in favor of countries that are going through difficult conditions."

Egypt has been working hard to improve investment environment through a package of important legislative and institutional reforms to embrace investors to invest in the North African country.

In an interview with Xinhua, Cai Jinyong, CEO of the International Finance Corporation, the private investment arm of the World Bank Group, said Egypt is experiencing stability and growth with potential investment opportunities.

However, it still needs to improve its investment climate and strengthen its infrastructure, he added.

Egypt's economic reform has shown preliminary results indicating positive growth, yet still with a bottleneck of insufficient infrastructure and energy, said Cai.

Around 90 countries, and 25 organizations and international institutions took part in the meeting.

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