Egypt-Saudi trade hits US$2 billion in first half of this year

The volume of trade between Egypt and Saudi Arabia during the first half of this year came to a total of US$2 billion, according to Saudi-Egyptian Business Council President Abdallah Dahlan. He predicted this figure would rise by roughly 25 percent by the end of 2010.

In an interview published in the Thursday edition of Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, Dahlan also noted that Saudi businessmen were waiting on the Egyptian government to unify investment procedures within a single separate authority.

Dahlan ,who was elected council president last week, went on to state that there were no major constraints limiting the flow of investment between the two countries. He added, however, that the issue of most concern on the Saudi side was the distribution of investment procedures among several independent Egyptian authorities.

In terms of the sectors expected to support anticipated increases in bilateral trade this year, the council president pointed to the services segment, noting that the transportation sector in particular would play a major role in the development of intra-regional trade.

"There are many products produced in Egypt for which the Saudi market is a strategic market," Dahlan said. "But there is a lack of easy and affordable transportation for the transfer and circulation of these products in the kingdom."

He added that Saudi Arabia could boast more foreign investment in Egypt than any other country, noting that among the latest and largest of these investments was the Al-Rajhi Group's agricultural project in southern Egypt for the production of wheat and poultry. This project, he said, was the largest Saudi project in Egypt after the the City Stars commercial complex in Cairo–led by Saudi businessman Abdel Rahman al-Sherbatli–and the projects led by Saudi businessman Saleh Kamel, which are distributed throughout Egypt.

Egyptian Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid–in a statement issued on the sidelines of a meeting of the Supreme Joint Saudi-Egyptian Committee that began last Sunday under the leadership of the trade ministers of both countries–said that the volume of bilateral trade had risen from US$1.34 billion in 2005, to about US$3.4 billion in 2009, to roughly US$2 billion within the first half of this year.

"The number of investment plans involving Saudi capital in Egypt has reached approximate 2,268 projects with capital exceeding LE86billion (US$15.6 billion), such that Saudi Arabia now occupies the first place for Arab investment in Egypt," said Rachid. "Meanwhile, Egyptian exports to Saudi markets have steadily increased, reaching US$1.333 billion in non-oil exports alone in 2009, whereas such exports only accounted for US$332 million in 2005 but now stand at US$958 million for the first half of 2010."

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