Egypt’s NDB membership to boost cooperation

Huge potential: Tourists in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Egypt has enormous investment opportunities in various fields such as tourism as well as a large and open market, which can benefit its partners. — AFP

CAIRO: Egypt, as a new member of the Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa or BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), will have more relevant opportunities for cooperation with other emerging economies, say Egyptian economic experts.

The NDB had recently announced Egypt’s new membership of the Shanghai-based bank, which was established in 2015 by BRICS member states to finance sustainable development projects in developing economies.

“We are delighted to welcome Egypt into NDB’s family. We look forward to supporting its investment needs in infrastructure and sustainable development,” said NDB president Marcos Troyjo.

Egyptian economics professor Fakhri al-Fiqi, also head of a relevant parliamentary committee, saw the NDB as “a good financing platform” for development projects in developing states that would spare them the trouble of borrowing in US dollar bonds at high interest rates.

“The BRICS countries’ admittance of Egypt as a new NDB member indicates their big confidence in the strength and flexibility of the Egyptian economy and its ability to absorb shocks and achieve high growth rates, especially after the government’s implementation of economic reform measures,” al-Fiqi told Xinhua.

Egypt is a very large market with ambitious development plans to expand urban development and infrastructure via projects in various fields, said the expert, noting its NDB membership would provide relevant opportunities for cooperation with the bank.

With an initial authorised capital of US$100bil (RM416.61bil), the NDB has approved about 80 projects for its members, with a total portfolio of US$30bil (RM124.98bil).

The projects cover sectors including transport, water and sanitation, clean energy, digital infrastructure, social infrastructure and urban development.

Al-Fiqi, also a former adviser to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), stressed that the NDB is expected to become “a global financing platform,” especially for developing and emerging economies, which means that the door is open for emerging economies to join it and contribute to raising its capital.

Egypt is the fourth new member admitted into the NDB, after Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Uruguay.

Diaa Helmy, secretary-general of Cairo-based Egyptian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, viewed Egypt’s membership of the NDB as “a natural result of the strong cooperation between Egypt and BRICS countries.”

He pointed out that it is a win-win move in favour of all parties. “Egypt has enormous investment opportunities in various fields, as well as a large and open market, not only at the local level, but it’s also connected with the African, Arab and European markets,” Helmy told Xinhua, adding that the NDB, with its financing capabilities, and Egypt, with its investment opportunities, can achieve great cooperation that benefits both sides.

In November 2016, Egypt launched an IMF-supported three-year economic reform programme that included liberalising the exchange rate of its local currency and implementing austerity measures such as gradual lifting of subsidies on fuel and electricity. —Xinhua

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