Era of development and stronger ties
THIS year, the celebration of Egypt's National Day acquires a special importance as it takes place at a time when Egypt is beginning a new era of economic development and when a stronger Egyptian-Hongkong partnership is being substantially consolidated.
Economic reform in Egypt has been vigorously stepped up during the past two years, enforcing more privatisation and thorough structural changes that are having a positive impact on the economy and paving the way for an enormous expansion in business activity.
The liberalisation of Egyptian foreign trade is gaining momentum. All remaining import restrictions are expected to be eliminated before the end of this year, opening the doors for further increases in Hongkong exports to the country.
Their growth rates of 24 per cent in 1990, 25 per cent in 1991 and 56 per cent to reach $1.7 billion in 1992, are bound to accelerate even faster. On the other hand, the vigorous Egyptian promotion held in Hongkong last year, highlighted by the ''Products Exhibition'' and two ''Investment Seminars'', has resulted in remarkable interest among the Hongkong business community.
Egyptian exports to Hongkong have seen dramatic increases lately - by 65 per cent in 1990, 313 per cent in 1991, and by 42 per cent in 1992 - and promise further expansion after the successful Egyptian trade promotion.
Exchange of visits has accelerated this year. A Hongkong business group held a trade fair in Cairo in November 1992, and will hold another one there in November this year. The Hongkong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) also participated in the Cairo International Fair in April 1992.
These activities would not have been possible without the active engagement and support from the HKTDC. An example of its valuable role is manifested by its report issued towards the end of last year, entitled ''Egypt: Market Prospects And Investment Environment''.
In this report, the HKTDC has efficiently analysed the latest positive economic developments in Egypt and identified the numerous opportunities for trading with and investing in Egypt.
An important step expected to crown all these activities and enhance the partnership is a visit to Egypt next November by HKTDC executives led by the chairman, Victor Fung.
Tourism and cultural relations are also maintaining strong growth. The biggest Hongkong travel agents and tour operators started to organise package tours to Egypt this year and waged intensified publicity campaigns for their programmes.
The partnership between Egypt and Hongkong is solidly based on common interest and mutual benefit. Other forms of co-operation are being actively explored.
In the field of investment, more Hongkong business people have started joint venture projects which have proved to be most viable and profitable. Their successes have encouraged others to join.
While manufacturers are offered opportunities to expand their sales, reach new markets, and lower their operating costs, investors in the thriving tourism sector are offered unmatchable opportunities to maximise their profits in Egypt, where tourism is growing at a rate of 13 per cent; more than double the worldwide rate.
The Egyptian and Chinese peoples have much in common. Each has a proud history of thousands of years, rich cultures, most deeply rooted values and traditions and each has made an enormous contribution to humanity.
Now their wide experiences are complementing each other through this remarkable new partnership.
The people of Egypt have profound confidence in Hongkong and in its future. They firmly believe the Hongkong people, who succeeded in transforming their homeland into one of the most active financial and trade centres in the world, will confidently continue to accomplish further advancement.