Former deputy PM of Egypt speaks on prospects for Chinese investment in Arab world

By Wang Yiming
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 10, 2019
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Dr. Ziad Bahaa-Eldin, former deputy prime minister of Egypt, delivers a speech on recent development in the Arab world and prospects for Chinese investment, at an event hosted by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), on Sept. 6, 2019, in Beijing. [Photo by Wang Yiming/]

A slowing global economy and the escalating China-U.S. trade dispute have combined to put brakes on global trade and investment flows. The Arab world, already beleaguered by geopolitics, is hungry for foreign investment as its annual FDI inflows have fallen by two-thirds since 2008, lagging far behind other emerging markets.

"What we have to do now is to go all the way to attract foreign investors," said Dr. Ziad Bahaa-Eldin, former deputy prime minister for economic development and minister of international cooperation of Egypt.

Dr.Ziad Bahaa-Eldin made the remark while delivering a speech on recent development in the Arab world and prospects for Chinese investment, hosted by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), a non-government think tank on Sept. 6, in Beijing.

Dr. Ziad Bahaa-Eldin shed light on the recent situation of some countries in the Arab world. According to him, oil prices continues to be quite favorable in Saudi Arabia; the United Arab Emirates plays a vital regional political role; Sudan's recent transitions have been successful and promising so far, yet it is weak in economy, infrastructure and investment.

Speaking of Egypt, Dr. Ziad Bahaa-Eldin said, "We have enjoyed political stability for a number of years since 2013 and completed a three-year program with the IMF which led to macroeconomic stability."

In terms of investment prospects, Dr. Ziad Bahaa-Eldin mainly cited construction, infrastructure, transport, health and education and renewable energy as the significant sectors of prospects, and Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, and Jordan as potential investment destinations.

As an Egyptian lawyer and expert on financial law, investment and company laws, he also shared his views on the legal and institutional framework including different types of legal systems, common legal features, investment law guarantees, and incentives and facilitation in the region.

In the last part of his speech, he put forward key factors for progressing Chinese investment in the Arab world. According to him, any investment needs to look at the macroeconomic and sociopolitical environment. Factors such as key macroeconomic indicators, population dynamics, capacity to tap into international financial markets, political stability, and international standing should all be taken into account.

Promoting educational exchanges to overcome language barriers, investing not just in trade, and investing not just locally but regionally. Dr. Ziad Bahaa-Eldin concluded his speech by proposing several initiatives.

At the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum held in 2018, China and Arab countries agreed to establish a "Sino-Arab future-oriented strategic partnership of comprehensive cooperation and common development," which indicated that China-Arab relations have entered a historic new stage.

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