A delegation of Turkish businessmen has met with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly for the first time in 10 years to discuss expanding operations in Egypt, The National News reported.
The visit marks a further warming of relations between the two countries.
The delegation included representatives from 14 companies working in industrial development, textiles, ready-made garments, sportswear, medical products and electronics, the Cabinet said on Wednesday.
The meeting, which took place in the New Administrative Capital, started with Mr Madbouly offering his condolences to the victims of the earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria earlier this month and left tens of thousands dead.
“The message of the meeting is important and clear because it is a step towards affirming the importance of trade and economic relations between Egypt and Turkey,” Mr Madbouly said. Further co-operation with Turkish companies could also increase Egypt’s exports to key markets abroad such as the UK, the US and Europe, he added.
Each of the Turkish business leaders delivered a brief address to the room on how they planned to expand their operations in Egypt.
The meeting was the product of several lower-level gatherings between Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Ahmed Samir and Turkish representatives, the Cabinet said.
Foreign direct investment by Turkish companies in Egypt amounts to about $2 billion.
The Turkish delegation said it hoped to increase its investment by another $500 million this year.
Several of the business leaders, particularly those with established companies in Egypt, spoke highly of their experiences in the country, the Cabinet said.
Turkish businessmen hoping to launch new endeavours raised concerns about the country’s investment climate, which Mr Madbouly said he would personally handle to give them the necessary assurances that Egypt's market is safe for investors.
Transparency and the state’s intervention in the private sector have long deterred foreign investors from expanding their operations in Egypt. The issue was raised repeatedly during the country’s latest negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for the approval of a $3 million loan.
Turkey and Egypt severed diplomatic ties in 2013 following harsh Turkish criticism of the ousting of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, which has strong ties with Turkey’s ruling AKP party.
However, despite the deterioration of the political relationship, trade between the two countries continued to increase at a significant rate, almost tripling between 2007, when a free-trade agreement signed in 2005 came into effect, and 2020, from $4.42 billion to $11.14 billion.
“Egypt and Turkey enjoy historic relations, and despite any political differences that may have occurred during previous periods,” Mr Madbouly said on Wednesday.
“We have been keen in Egypt to maintain the relationship between our people, and to keep our co-operation in the economic and trade fields close.”
The relationship between the countries has improved significantly since 2013.
Egypt President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the World Cup opening ceremony in Doha in November. A photo of the pair shaking hands was widely shared on social media.
The pair issued statements after their meeting that the handshake was the first step towards normalising ties and that more would follow.
However, both sides are still at odds over key regional issues. Turkey's singing of an oil and gas deal with Libya's Tripoli-based government drew ire from Egypt and Greece, which support the rival Tobruk-based administration.
Cairo has also criticised Ankara for exploratory drilling in disputed waters near Cyprus.
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