Italy's confidence in Egypt restored at business council

'Focus on security sector'; Fincantieri eyes Suez

25 November, 20:27

    Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi during the press confrence with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Rome Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi during the press confrence with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Rome

    (by Cristiana Missori) (ANSAmed) - ROME - An Italian-Egyptian business council meeting held on Tuesday as part of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's visit to Italy resulted in several agreements signed. Energy, transportation, security, agriculture, construction, infrastructure and training for youth, technicians and craftsmen were all touched on during the meeting. Along with Egyptian industry and trade minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, investment minister Ashraf Salman and Italy's deputy economy minister Carlo Calenda, representatives from the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE), Sace, Simest, Pirelli, Italferr, Italcementi and Alex Bank of the Intesa San Paolo group all took part.

    ''We are prepared to open the second phase of our bilateral relations and this phase will begin with the late February mission (announced on Monday by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Ed.),'' Calenda said in his opening remarks at the press conference, during which the agreements signed between Italian enterprises and the Egyptian authorities were announced. The agreements are worth a substantial amount of money and affect the key sectors of the economy, especially infrastructure and transportation. There is a wide range of opportunities to be had in the security sector as well, noted the co-chairman of the Italian-Egyptian Business Council, Mauro Moretti. ''Security and border and coastal control is an area that Italian industry can offer skills and experience in,'' he said.

    Through Fincantieri, Italy is prepared to get involved in the project for a new Suez canal parallel to the current one with the building of a shipyard, said Deputy Minister Calenda, noting that ''the matter will be discussed in late February''. Italian investors will also play a part in the building of a high-speed Alexandria-Cairo-Aswan-Luxor rail link (1200 km), with investment estimated at about 10 million dollars. A 30-year loan has been requested from the Italian foreign ministry for the project. Then there is also mining in the 'Golden Triangle' in southern Egypt and the creation of a logistics hub in Damietta. ''In the energy field, the opportunities can come from both renewables and traditional forms. Investment could rise as high as 40 billion euros over the next five years,'' said Khaled Abu Bakr, head of Taqa Arabia (Egypt's largest private energy distribution company) and co-chairman of the business council. Italy already has 902 investment projects underway in Egypt and trade was estimated at 5.1-5.2 billion euros in 2014, noted Calenda, underscoring that the levels were rising once more to those seen in 2012, which marked ''a record year for our trade''.

    By 2016, he said, ''we are aiming to reach 6 billion euros''. Calenda noted that the textile industry and cotton production could be one area to focus on, as well as tanneries and leather goods. Sisi's Egypt is thus Italy's ''strategic partner'', he said. ''We are making difficult decisions,'' said Egypt's industry and trade minister, Abdel Nour, ''but we will free ourselves of market distortions and improve investor confidence.''(ANSAmed).

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