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Saudi–Egyptian bilateral trade to rise 12 percent by year’s end: Egyptian official - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A boat passes buildings under construction and the two towers of the National Bank of Egypt building (R), overlooking the River Nile in Cairo, Egypt, on June 7, 2013. (Reuters/Asmaa Waguih)

A boat passes buildings under construction and the two towers of the National Bank of Egypt building (R), overlooking the River Nile in Cairo, Egypt, on June 7, 2013. (Reuters/Asmaa Waguih)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Bilateral trade between Saudi Arabia and Egypt will jump 12 percent year-on-year by the end of 2014, an Egyptian diplomatic official in Riyadh told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday.

Ahmed Zaki, the economic adviser at the Egyptian embassy in Riyadh, said Egypt expects bilateral trade between both countries to grow thanks to continually improving mutual economic relations and Egypt’s ongoing economic reforms.

He said the latest official figures from Egypt’s Finance Ministry showed that Saudi–Egyptian bilateral trade reached 5.3 billion US dollars in 2013—comprising 2.1 billion dollars’ worth of Egyptian exports to the Kingdom and 3.2 billion dollars of Saudi exports to Egypt, a growth of more than ten percent over the previous year’s figures.

“Bilateral trade between the two countries in 2013 grew 10.8 percent compared to 2012, a good [growth] rate given the bad conditions the country [Egypt] has faced since the January 25 [2011] and June 30 [2013] revolutions,” he said, referring, respectively, to the uprising that unseated longtime president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the widespread street protests that led to the ousting of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013.

“It was expected, in light of the circumstances Egypt went through [during this period], that bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia would decrease. So we were surprised when we looked at the figures because not only did they reveal there was no decrease, they also showed the opposite was in fact true, with bilateral trade jumping 10.8 percent [between 2012 and 2013].”

Zaki said the most prominent Egyptian exports to the Kingdom included construction materials, electrical equipment, agricultural products, and processed food products; while Saudi exports to Egypt include diesel and butane gas, as well as petroleum and petrochemical products.

This comes as the Saudi Council of Ministers approved on Monday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Kingdom and the Egyptian government to increase cooperation between both countries’ housing ministries on a number of residential projects.

Commenting on the decision, Zaki said “this step . . . taken by the Saudi Council of Ministers is in complete harmony with the blossoming political relationship between the leadership of both countries.”

He said the agreement would reflect positively, “in a substantial way,” on the housing sectors of both countries and have “tangible effects” on the work of both ministries.

He expected the increased cooperation between the two countries in the housing sector to also increase mutual job opportunities for the employees of contracting companies from both countries, in light of the expansion witnessed in the housing sectors of both the Kingdom and Egypt.