Egypt’s economic summit delayed due to Chinese New Year
Finance Minister Hani Kadry - YOUM7/Sami Waheeb

CAIRO: Egypt’s long anticipated economic summit has been postponed to mid-March to “avoid coinciding with the Chinese New Year,” Minister of Finance Hani Kadry announced at a Saturday press conference.

Saudi Arabia called for the upcoming summit in June following the election of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and invited “friends of Egypt” to support its economy. Sisi then embraced the idea and announced the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh as the host of the summit. The government had initially intended to host the summit as early as in November, but during the summer it was scheduled to be held from Feb. 21-22, 2015, only a few days after the Chinese New Year on Feb. 19, which is celebrated for days by several communities around the world.

Important investors from East Asia would not attend the summit if it were held in February, Kadry said.

Egypt is “keen” on attracting Asian investors because they form a “rising bloc” in the global economy, and it wants to allow every opportunity for them to explore all investment fields, Mesbah Qutb, an adviser to the minister of finance, told CBC Extra channel Saturday.

Qutb also expressed his hopes that the judicial authority finalizes the parliamentary elections ahead of March for the summit to be held in the best possible circumstances and at a “better democratic juncture.”

The completion of the 2013 Roadmap by holding parliamentary elections would ensure businessmen they are investing in a stable environment, Rashad Abdu, head of the Egyptian Forum for Economic and Strategic Studies, told Dream2 channel Saturday.

In July, Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman met with 10 Asian ambassadors to present legal reforms in the field of investment. The ambassadors of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, China and other countries expressed their governments’ and corporations’ desire to invest in respective fields, such as energy, recycling, agriculture and other fields.

The summit turned from a regional meeting into an international one after several major countries, including the U.S. and China, expressed their wish to participate in the “well-organized” conference, Abu said in his Dream2 interview.

Other than the Chinese New Year and the elections, an anonymous source in the Ministerial Economic Group told Al-Watan News on Oct. 26 that the summit might be postponed due to ongoing militancy in the Sinai.

“International partners” suggested that the summit be held amid better security conditions, and after the parliamentary elections, the source said.

A U.S. economic delegation of 160 CEOs is in Egypt until Monday to inspect potential investments for American firms in the fields of health, energy, power, agriculture, infrastructure, telecommunications and tourism, according to a Saturday Cabinet statement.

The American government is working to encourage U.S. businesses to invest in Egypt, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Oct. 27 in a joint Cairo press conference with Kadry.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are expected to come forward with major investments during the summit. The International Monetary Fund also announced it would participate.

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