Production could start by 2022 at Russian industrial zone in Egypt

This picture taken on July 9, 2019 shows tankers and cargo ships navigating through the Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal southwards towards the Egyptian port city of Suez. (AFP)
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Updated 19 October 2020

Production could start by 2022 at Russian industrial zone in Egypt

  • Russia’s ambassador to Egypt, Georgy Borisenko, said 32 Russian companies are interested in the zone
  • The project requires that 90 percent of the jobs created by the zone be filled by Egyptian workers

CAIRO: Production could begin at a Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal Axis development as soon as 2022, if final negotiations to establish the zone are completed in the coming year, according to Georgy Borisenko, Russia’s ambassador to Egypt.

He told Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar that the project is underway and, although there are still some details for Egyptian and Russian authorities to iron out, 32 businesses based in Russia are interested in establishing factories and storage facilities there. They operate in fields such as food, plastics and electrical appliances. Egypt will benefit from the creation of jobs for local workers, he said, and the transfer of Russian technology in a number of fields.

“These are private-sector companies that need commercial advantages and that is the reason for continuing discussions with our Egyptian counterparts to achieve the best position for Russian companies,” said Borisenko.

“Egypt requires that 90 percent of the workers in Russian projects be Egyptians, and the manufacture and export of more products with the (Made in Egypt) label to many countries that share free-trade zones with Egypt. Russian companies will reap profits from their projects.

“Currently, negotiations are underway to conclude several agreements, which we hope will end next year. If they go as smoothly as we hope … work will start in the Russian industrial zone and the first production will (take place) in 2022 — not from all the factories because some need more time.”

The ambassador said that Russia has a keen interest in enhancing trade relations with Egypt, which it considers the main gateway to Africa.

“Egypt accounts for a third of the volume of Russian trade with Africa and we are interested in strengthening our economic relations through several projects, such as the Russian industrial zone and several major contracts, such as supplying 1,300 railway cars through the Russian company Transmash, in partnership with Hungary,” he added.

Borisenko also noted that construction work is continuing at El-Dabaa on Egypt’s first nuclear power plant.

“It must be noted that nuclear plants need a long time to be built,” he said. “It is natural that building a nuclear plant takes at least 10 years and, unfortunately, the outbreak of the coronavirus negatively impacted the plant’s construction schedule.”

He also indicated that it was possible that a Russian COVID-19 vaccine, when developed, could be manufactured in Egypt. The Egyptian Pharmaceutical Company has requested the vaccine, and it would be made available as soon as approval is granted by the Egyptian Ministry of Health, he added.

“We will be happy to supply more quantities of vaccine and help Egypt protect its citizens because the required quantity is not sufficient for the Egyptian people, who currently exceed 101 million,” said Borisenko.

“In the event that Egypt wants more, the matter is not only related to the supply. The Russian Direct Investment Fund may give a license to manufacture the vaccine in Egypt, which will be a great benefit to Egyptian companies, providing job opportunities and giving Egypt the opportunity to be a center for exporting the vaccine to African countries.”

SAMA to become Saudi Central Bank, with full independence

Updated 5 min 9 sec ago

SAMA to become Saudi Central Bank, with full independence

  • New central bank to be linked directly to king but its president independent of government
  • Bank’s core responsibilities to maintain monetary reserves, boost confidence, trust in financial sector

RIYADH: The Council of Ministers on Tuesday approved a new law which includes changing the name of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) to the Saudi Central Bank.

Under the legislation, the new Saudi Central Bank will be linked directly to the monarch and will enjoy full financial and managerial independence.

The Saudi Central Bank Law set out three core objectives for the new institution namely, to maintain cash stability, boost confidence and trust in the financial sector, and support economic growth.

The new legislation states that the central bank is responsible for setting and managing monetary policy and it outlines the relationship between the bank, the government, and other international important organizations and bodies. It also sets a framework to govern the bank’s operations and decisions.

Fadhel Al-Buainain, an economic expert and member of the Shoura Council, said one of the important aspects of the Saudi Central Bank Law was that it was linked directly to the king.

“This enhances its full independence with respect to setting the monetary policy and the bank’s relationship with the government and global organizations,” he added.

The law states that the abbreviation SAMA, which was established in 1952, would remain unchanged due to its historical importance domestically and internationally.

“The fact that the bank will keep the SAMA abbreviation unchanged is important and reflects a wise decision because the abbreviation is widely-known,” Al-Buainain said.

While the SAMA acronym will remain, Hassan Alwatban, an economic consultant, outlined the differences between the monetary authority and the central bank.

For the central bank to perform its duties properly, he said it needed to be fully independent when it came to decision-making, especially decisions related to managing state funds.

Another difference was that the president of the central bank would not be under the state’s authority and their nomination would be made by a legislative authority. The government or state could not appoint or remove the president except by the most supreme judiciary authority.

Thirdly, he added, a government agency could not interfere in the bank’s affairs because the bank enjoyed full monetary power.

Alwatban told Arab News: “Therefore, changing the monetary authority to a central bank is healthy for the national economy.

“The tasks of the Ministry of Finance, which is responsible for financial policies, will be set apart from the tasks of the central bank, which is responsible for setting the monetary policies. Before the change, the tasks of the Ministry of Finance and SAMA overlapped.

“Besides, the Ministry of Finance was in charge of the financial policy and the monetary policy at the same time, a fact that made SAMA focus on serving the banks’ interests more than focusing on serving the interests of citizens,” he added.