Egypt has undertaken reforms to become an advanced economy interwoven with the global economy, the country’s top envoy to Korea said last week.
“Egyptians under the leadership of President Abdel-Fattah el Sissi have been embarking on an ambitious economic program to transform the country into a fully-fledged, dynamic economy,” said Egyptian Ambassador to Korea Hazem Fahmy at the embassy on Wednesday on the occasion of the 66th anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution.
“We have managed in a very short period to raise our annual economic growth rate from 1.8 percent to 5.5 percent. Such goals cannot be achieved without reliable partners like the Republic of Korea.”
Egyptian Ambassador to Korea Hazem Fahmy (center) poses with Korean Deputy Minister for Political Affairs Yoon Soon-gu (right) and chairman of the Africa New Era Forum, Rep. Lee Ju-young, at the Egyptian Embassy on Wednesday. (Joel Lee/The Korea Herald)
The Egyptian coup d’etat of 1952, also known as the July 23 revolution, began on July 23, 1952, by the Free Officers Movement, a group of army officers led by Mohammed Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser.
The coup was initially aimed at unseating King Farouk. But it also had other political goals, including abolishing the constitutional monarchy and aristocracy of Egypt and Sudan, establishing a republic, ending the British occupation of the country, and securing the independence of Sudan, according to historians.
The revolutionary government adopted a nationalist, anti-imperialist agenda, expressed later through Arab nationalism and the international non-alignment movement.
“The revolution was a landmark event that made a profound impact on many countries around the world. Historians still engage in intense debates about many aspects of the revolution, but there seems to be little doubt that it inspired the struggle for independence from colonial powers, asserting our common future and political identity, as well as Arab nationalism,” Fahmy said.
“However, the challenges facing our nation are different now than they were 66 years ago. Central among them is achieving economic development and integrating into the global economy. In the same spirit of the Egyptian revolution, Egyptians have continued on this path and rose again in two consecutive revolutions on Jan. 25, 2011, and June 30, 2013, to correct the course and to lay the ground for social justice and economic development for the people.”
Turning to relations with Korea, the ambassador said Sissi was impressed by Korea’s development when he visited the country in March 2016. Many high-level visits and exchanges have taken place in various fields, he added.
Currently, several Korean companies, including Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Hyundai Motors, Kia Motors, Daewoo Engineering and Construction, GS Engineering and Construction and Korea Telecom, operate in Egypt.
“We aspire for much more and are looking forward to President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Egypt in the near future. That will take our unique and strong partnership to higher levels,” said the diplomat. “As Egypt is getting ready to assume the presidency of the African Union, we also look forward to cooperating with the Republic of Korea to enhance economic and political output for the African continent.”
Korean Deputy Minister for Political Affairs Yoon Soon-gu, who served in Cairo as the Korean ambassador just prior to his current post, said bilateral relations had made much progress since they were established in 1995.
“Egypt has implemented decisive reforms to upgrade its industrial capabilities and enhance living standards,” Yoon said. “Mega-projects such as the new administrative capital will transform the country’s future and redesign Cairo’s landscape,” he added, referring to the proposed new administrative and financial capital being built 45 kilometers east of Cairo.
The project started mainly to relieve congestion in Cairo -- already one of the world’s most crowded cities -- with the population of Greater Cairo expected to increase sharply over the next few decades. Spanning 700 square kilometers, the new city would house main government departments and ministries, as well as foreign embassies, and be home to 5 million to 7 million inhabitants.
The country is playing a leading role for regional peace and security, Yoon added, lauding Egypt’s efforts to eradicate terrorism and extremism.
In an interview with The Korea Herald, Fahmy said the three most promising sectors for foreign investment in Egypt were energy, construction and tourism.
Egypt has abundant natural resources, including petroleum, natural gas, phosphates and iron ore, but is investing heavily in renewable energy, particularly solar and wind energy, he pointed out.
“We have a new administrative capital being built and it’s going to be a big, green and smart city. There is a lot of mainland construction projects happening in Egypt, and they offer huge opportunities for Korean companies,” the envoy said. “For neighboring countries, Egypt has so many free trade agreements with the rest of the world. If you produce in Egypt, you have a market of 1.8 billion people to export.”
Fahmy pointed to the recently signed Continental Free Trade Agreement, which will turn the whole African continent into an integrated free trade area after it goes into effect in a few years.
Egypt’s tourism industry is one of the most important sectors of the national economy, employing many and attracting large foreign money and investments. The country is home to a myriad of historical attractions, especially in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, as well as scenic beaches and seas.
By Joel Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org), intern reporter Bang In-sung