Egypt’s economy is developing despite Covid-19
Though Covid-19 pandemic has impacted every corner in the world, the bilateral ties between Egypt and South Korea have witnessed remarkable progress amid towering ambitions to expand partnership in diverse domains in the upcoming period.
Recently, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Hong Jinwook has held “press salon” and invited Egyptian journalists to the embassy to highlight his thoughts and impressions looking back on his ten months of tireless efforts on the diplomatic scene to give extra boost to Egypt-Korea relations since his arrival to Cairo in June last year.
According to the ambassador, it was quite a challenge to take up his post amid the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that the past ten months were an opportunity to fully understand the importance of the two countries’ strategic partnership and the necessity of continuous efforts to further develop this partnership to a sustainable one.
In his speech, the ambassador highlighted the growing industrial co-operation between the two countries, referring to the recent meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Yong-Bae Lee, Chairperson and CEO of the global Korean company Hyundai Rotem in Cairo. In this meeting, President Sisi emphasised South Korea’s role as an effective development partner for Egypt. He added that Egypt is looking forward to establishing strategic cooperation with the Korean company in many industrial fields, especially in the heavy industry sector that depends on labour and advanced technology.
Speaking to the weekly edition of The Egyptian Gazette (Egyptian Mail) on the role of the embassy in industrial co-operation, the ambassador said that it is the role of the governments to facilitate the work of companies and enhance co-operation in the field of industry and trade, pointing out that Egypt has the Suez Canal Economic Zone, which is an area where co-operation and investment can be developed in various fields.
“There are many agendas to expand joint co-operation and the strategic partnership between the two countries will help open new horizons for such co-operation. This kind of co-operation contributes to strengthening the manufacturing capability of Egypt as well as enhancing the engagement of Korea in this region,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ambassador also referred to his meeting with the Minister of International Co-operation Rania al-Mashat to further activate the financial co-operation between the two countries. In this meeting, Egypt was announced as one of the most important countries that will be supported by the Korean government in the upcoming years, the ambassador said.
The ambassador also praised Egypt’s leading role in the Middle East and its keenness to help neighbouring countries.
“Egypt plays a pivotal role in bringing closer points of view between neighbouring countries, as it is located in the heart of 22 Arab countries and has a strong influence in the region.”
On a positive note, the ambassador revealed that there are 170 Korean companies that have investments in Egypt.
“Egypt and South Korea are ideal partners and their bilateral ties can be summarised in this word ‘UFS’. These letters stand for understanding, flexibility and stability,” he added.
The Egyptian economy, the ambassador continued, is developing due to industrialisation projects, besides Egypt’s major role in the medical field and the pharmaceutical industry. Meanwhile, the ambassador referred to the visit of President Sisi to Korea in 2016.
“What impressed me is the president’s keenness to increase projects that seek to improve the daily life of the Egyptian people besides increasing local production as a substitute for imports” he said. The ambassador also noted that the visit of his country’s president to Cairo, which was scheduled for last year, was postponed due to Covid-19.
The co-operation between the two countries also included projects for supplying rolling stock for the Cairo Metro line 3, modernising signalling and communication systems on the Nag’ Hammadi-Luxor line. As for localisation of manufacture, joint co-operation includes expansion of Samsung Electronics manufacturing facilities for tablet PCs besides Hyundai Rotem’s plan for local manufacturing of metro cars.
As for the economic ecosystem, there is internship programme between Samsung Electronics and Beni Sueif Technological University.
The ambassador told this newspaper that the Korean embassy is also planning to further support Egyptian entrepreneurs by finding creative ways for financial support.
“The Egyptian-Korean partnership will also focus on this domain. The Egyptian entrepreneurs can also be invited to South Korea to benefit from the experience of Korean entrepreneurs besides keeping abreast of latest developments in science technology and artificial intelligence,” he told this newspaper.
The ambassador also revealed that there are agreements to manufacture 6 million tablets that Samsung manufactures in Beni Suef Governorate, adding that the first stage is to be completed for high school students, and then other educational levels. The first phase will be ready within the next year, he added.
Believing in the role of public diplomacy and soft power in boosting bilateral ties, the ambassador along with the head of the Korean Cultural Centre highlighted the recent events that were held in hopes of bringing people of both countries closer. “We spare no efforts and we are resuming our efforts to help people of both countries meet whether online or offline. This helps promote awareness of both Egyptian and Korean cultures,” the ambassador told Egyptian Mail.
Due to the precautionary measures, the Korean embassy resorted to social media and online events, which received highly positive interaction. The embassy and the centre have been looking for alternative ways to bring back the centre’s vitality through online language courses and cultural events. The centre is also planning to increase the language courses, which will help boost cultural harmony.
Among those online events is celebration of Seollal Week (Korean New Year) by producing and publishing online videos. The centre also showed the history of Kimchi (a Korean dish) on the occasion of the Egyptian Spring Day. During the holy month of Ramadan, the centre also organised Iftar Mokkoji that included the screening of Korean performing arts via YouTube.
Regarding possible areas for expanding cooperation, the ambassador clarified that these areas include water management and health sectors.
“Korea has witnessed a great economic renaissance and seeks to share its experiences in various fields with Egypt in light of the strong relations and great understanding between Cairo and Seoul, in a way that will benefit the peoples of the two countries,” the ambassador said.