x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Egyptian PM visits capital for first time

Sharaf seeks aid from the UAE and other Arab countries to help economy recover.

The Egyptian Prime Minister held a brief press conference today along with members of his cabinet and the FNC at the Emirates Palace.
The Egyptian Prime Minister held a brief press conference today along with members of his cabinet and the FNC at the Emirates Palace.

ABU DHABI // The Egyptian prime minister, Dr Essam Sharaf, arrived in the UAE yesterday to discuss the country's economic recovery with UAE officials.

Egypt is seeking both investment and aid from Arab countries.

Officials visiting yesterday said the country needed US$3billion (Dh11bn) in financial assistance. "With the help of Arab countries I think we can manage," said Samir Radwan, the Egyptian minister of finance. Mr Radwan was part of the delegation accompanying Dr Sharaf, who met their UAE counterparts at the capital's Emirates Palace hotel.

"We are hoping for the Emirates to help Egypt," Mr Radwan said. "We have a deficit of 8.6 per cent of GDP, or 134 billion Egyptian pounds. Our target is to cover it, from local market, to cover 120 billion Egyptian pounds, and we will have 14 billion looking to get covered, roughly $3 billion."

So far Saudi Arabia has provided $500 million in financial assistance and Qatar is considering the sum it will provide, Mr Radwan said.

Dr Sharaf, who flew in specially for the meeting in Abu Dhabi, was received by Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

The UAE invested $4.5bn in Egypt last year, said Dr Anwar Gargash, the minister of state for foreign affairs.

Dr Sharaf assured UAE investors a more transparent investment climate for their funds. The prime minister said investors in the country, specifically those from the UAE, would not face "obstacles".

"We are very keen to overcome all obstacles to the UAE investments," he said. "As I was coming here, I had high hopes and trust to solve any setbacks. We want to solve it overall."

He said that "good" progress had been made, and that he was "sure all of it will be resolved".

The Egyptian economy has faced great challenges since the revolution started on January 25, an official at the meeting said.

“After January 25, the economy went down, not because of the revolution, but because of the lack of tourism, the production level was going down...,” said one of the prime minister’s aides.

According to the Egyptian ambassador to the UAE, Tamer Mansour, Mr Sharaf also met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed.

Mr Mansour, the Egyptian ambassador, added that one of the aims of the visit is to discuss “the most important problems in Egypt, as well as discussing economics and investment”.

Dr Gargash welcomed the prime minister, and stressed the importance of the prime minister’s visit.

Dr Sharaf also met leaders of the Egyptian business community in Abu Dhabi to discuss any challenges they are currently facing.

Dr Sharaf’s visit was postponed twice previously. He is scheduled to fly out this morning.

osalem@thenational.ae