Egypt’s Eastern Co first company to seek land in Suez Canal project

Egypt's top cigarette maker Eastern Co has requested 250 feddans (105 hectares) of land in a new industrial hub the government hopes to build around the Suez Canal, the company said on Wednesday.
Eastern, which plans to use the land to build a customs storage facility and production lines for export, is the first company to sign up to the development. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The Suez project, announced by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last August, aims to turn the canal area into an international industrial and logistics hub. In a separate scheme, the army began digging a second canal in August to allow two-way traffic of larger ships.
The Suez Canal is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia and brings in around US$5 billion of revenues per year, a vital source of hard currency for Egypt, which has suffered a slump in tourism and foreign investment since a 2011 uprising.
The economic zone will be a main focus at this week's international investment summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, where Egypt hopes to burnish its image and attract billions of dollars.
The investment minister has said he expects the economic zone to eventually make up about a third of Egypt's economy, but did not say when it would reach that share.
The chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, who is managing the project, told Reuters last month the military could have a role in the industrial hub by building infrastructure and providing security. 

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