On October 20, 2022, Ambassador Dr. Ezzat Saad, ECFA Director, hosted Mr. Terentiev Sergey Leonidovich, Ambassador of the State of Belarus to Cairo, and his assistant, on a courtesy visit, whereby they exchanged views on Egypt- Belarus relations, and means to enhance them. The guest affirmed that his country’s current relations with Egypt are going well, and that they are making more efforts to promote them, noting that trade relations had exceeded $100 million during the last period, while it is less than that now. At the same time, he pointed out that the share of advanced technology in the bilateral trade between the two countries is very weak, and that they hope to enhance cooperation in this field, exchange private investment projects at the bilateral level, and get rid of the hesitation that many Egyptian investors feel about investing in Belarus.
The guest mentioned that there is a joint committee on bilateral trade relations, established in September 2019, and that the embassy is now preparing to hold a session of talks on trade in the services sector, noting that the session of the committee has been repeatedly postponed since its inception, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He also explained that they had communicated with the Ministry of Military Production, as cooperation in this regard witnessed a remarkable development, but its level decreased following the death of Lieutenant General Al-Assar in 2020. He also praised what he described as the continuous and constructive cooperation with officials of the Arab Authority for Industrialization.
In a related context, the ambassador expressed his country’s keenness to invest in the Suez Canal Economic Zone and to cooperate in advanced technology sectors. He added that the Russians invite Belarus and other members of the Eurasian Economic Union (Kazakhstan – Armenia – Kyrgyzstan) to enter with them in the same industrial zone allocated to them, but they do not prefer that, especially since they have a comparative advantage in some industries. He added that they are very excited to invest in a zone of their own in the economic zone, to benefit from the multiple regional trade agreements that Egypt is a member of, including the African Free Trade Agreement.
The guest raised the need to address issues related to assembling some products inside Egypt, and their high cost compared to the cost of the fully manufactured product if imported from Belarus. He added that the last rounds of negotiation on the agreement to establish a free trade zone between Egypt and the Eurasian Economic Union were held recently in Cairo, and that they hope to conclude the negotiations soon, to strengthen bilateral relations, adding that Egypt is a candidate to join after Vietnam.
The guest also inquired about the nature of the Council’s activity and its working mechanisms, pointing out that the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS), which was established three years ago as a think tank affiliated with the Presidency of the Republic, desires a partnership with the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs. The ambassador was briefed on ECFA activities and partnerships around the world, and prospects for cooperation with similar think tanks, including the drafting of joint research on specific issues. The embassy was provided with a draft MOU for cooperation between ECFA and the Belarusian Institute to study it.