By Mahmoud Fouly SUEZ, Egypt (Xinhua)
-- China is the largest investor in
the development of Egypt’s Suez Canal Corridor, a mega project
showcasing the win-win partnership between the two countries,
said Ahmed Darwish, chairman of the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone),
in an interview with Xinhua.
corporation, one of the oldest industrial developers of the
region, has seen a steady increase in the number of its
development projects and tenant factories since it entered Egypt
and established a joint Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation
Zone, in the Ain Sokhna district of the Suez Canal Corridor east
of capital Cairo.
Chinese investments are the largest. We highly appreciate the
earnestness of our Chinese partners. They were among the first
to act as an industrial developer in the zone,” the SCZone chief
told Xinhua. “TEDA has put in place the micro-infrastructure and
is re-promoting the land. They are doing an excellent job.”
“This partnership is
a win-win situation,” because TEDA knows best how to promote the
zone among Chinese investors while Egypt’s trade agreements with
African states make it easy for Chinese products to enter
African markets without trade barriers or customs, he said.
“We’re opening for
Chinese investors 26 African countries due to our trade
agreements. When they have the ‘Made in Egypt’ label on their
products, they go through zero trade barriers and zero customs,”
Darwish said, highlighting the zone’s distinguished location
that is only one hour away from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, two hours
from Djibouti, and two hours and a half from Mombasa, Kenya, by
The idea of an
industrial zone, covering a total area of 461 sq. km and
comprising four sections and six ports, in the Suez Canal
Corridor emerged in 1998, with laws getting modified to
facilitate the presence of foreign investors and to provide
foreign companies with land usufruct rights.
China’s TEDA is
working on the development of an area that increased to 7.23 sq.
km at Ain Sokhna. It has completed its first phase, attracting
some 68 enterprises, including Jushi, a fiberglass giant from
China. The second phase started in 2016.
As for the SCZone
connection with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by
President Xi Jinping in 2013 to revive ancient land and sea
trade routes between China and countries in Asia, Africa and
Europe, Darwish stressed that Egypt is “a major player” in the
“We are welcoming
very much the Belt and Road Initiative. We are on the Silk Road
Economic Belt,” he said. “We are very happy that the Chinese are
seeing us among the bright spots of development and
sustainability along the Belt and Road.”
As for the
complaints of some companies that the Egyptian government raised
the tax imposed on investors in industrial zones from 10 percent
to 22.5 percent, Darwish explained that this will not be applied
to those established and operated in Egypt under the old law,
started in the zone with a 10-percent tax remain in the zone
with a 10-percent tax. TEDA was established under the old law,
but new tenants of TEDA that came after the new law is enacted
will be subject to the 22.5-percent tax,” he said.
Darwish said the
investment law is still being reviewed and hopefully an
attractive formula for investors will come up.
He said that a
comparison of the SCZone with 17 other zones along different
industries worldwide has shown that the Egyptian zone has a
competitive advantage in areas such as the pharmaceutical,
automotive and food and beverage industries.
“Initially, I have
been doing general promotion of the zone, meeting with
associations of businessmen in China, France, the United States,
Japan, South Korea, etc. But now I am more focused on targeting
certain companies and trying to attract leading investors to the
zone to build clusters of specific industries,” the SCZone chief
told Xinhua, expecting a cluster of pharmaceutical firms to be
soon established at the zone.