Hariri: To improve trade exchange and tourism with Egypt

On the sidelines of the meeting of the Egyptian-Lebanese Joint High Committee in Cairo, the Egyptian-Lebanese Businessmen’s Forum organized a conference sponsored by the Prime Ministers of the two countries, Saad Hariri and Sharif Ismail at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Many economic, financial and industrial figures and businessmen from both countries as well as members of the Lebanese ministerial delegation attended the conference.

After speeches delivered by Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Tarek Kabil, Lebanese Minister of Economy Raed Khoury and Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasreddine, Hariri delivered the following speech: “It is my pleasure to be with you today at the Egyptian-Lebanese Businessmen Forum, on the sidelines of the meetings of the Lebanese-Egyptian Joint Higher Committee which is holding its 8th session, to reemphasize the strength of the Lebanese-Egyptian relations and the true will of the two states to develop these relations and invest all the capacities and energies to ensure a bright future for our promising youth.

Our countries must undergo structural reforms that lay the foundations for a modern and flexible economy that achieves high growth rates, sustainable development, job opportunities, and increase the income of hundreds of thousands of our youth.

We hope that the meetings of the eighth session of the Lebanese-Egyptian Joint Higher Committee would represent a qualitative move in the relations between Lebanon and the Arab Republic of Egypt, which cannot be achieved without an active participation of the private sector in both countries.

Thus, businessmen should enhance the integration in the business area and highlight the differential features of Lebanon and Egypt and the products and services in both.

Egypt has gained a leading position in the Lebanese foreign trade movement, but the Lebanese exports to Egypt are still weak and lack diversity, which causes imbalance in the trade balance between the two countries.

The figures of trade exchange between Lebanon and Egypt are not up to the level for which we aspire.

In 2010, the value of Egypt’s exports to Lebanon was $430 million and the level of Lebanese exports to Egypt was $200 million. Today, the value of Egypt’s exports to Lebanon is $770 million, while the value of the Lebanese exports to Egypt is only $58 million.

We should develop our intra trade, activate the bilateral agreements and remove the non-tariff barriers to facilitate the import-export movement between the two countries, especially with the absence of land transport of goods as a result of the Syrian crisis.

I look forward to discuss all these issues tomorrow with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail during the meeting of the higher committee because the primary responsibility lies on our shoulders as governments and decision makers to find the suitable ground to facilitate the work of the businessmen in all fields.

The businessmen meetings also help in establishing new investments in several areas.

We should also work hand in hand and in partnership between the public and private sectors to find common investment opportunities that would revive the economic activity and reduce the burden of unemployment on the economy. In this context, I am keen to activate the work of the Egyptian- Lebanese businessmen Forum and intensify its meetings that aim at developing the economic and investment cooperation between the two countries.

Our forum today may represent an opportunity to start discussing the joint projects and opportunities that may arise between the private sectors in both countries during the next phase. It is the phase of rebuilding Syria, which we all look forward to.

Cooperation in tourism is equally important to the trade and investment cooperation. Lebanon, like Egypt, due to its unique geographic location and nature, has embraced overtime many civilizations, cultures and religions that enriched its land with a variety of historical sites that made it a destination for tourists from all over the world.

Our cooperation in this field and the effort to activate tourism between the two countries not only increases the flow of tourists to Lebanon and Egypt and contributes to the rise of growth rates but also complements the historic scene of the region, which terrorism is trying to obliterate and change by wiping out the archeological sites.

In the end, I thank you for your presence and I thank in particular the organizers of this forum, wishing you success in today’s meetings.”

A memorandum of cooperation between members and employees of the Chamber of Building Materials Industries – Federation of Egyptian Industries, and members and employees of the Union of Owners of marble, granite and cement plants in Lebanon was signed, by the president of the Union Nazih Najem (Lebanon) and Badawi Abdel Hakim and Ahmed Abdel-Hamid Abdessalam (Egypt).

Source: National News Agency