Mubarak receives Canadian Premier
Egypt-Canada, Politics, 4/12/2000
President Hosni Mubarak's talks with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien today focussed on bilateral relations and signed agreements between both countries.
Following the meetings, Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said Chretien voiced Canada's desire to bolster relations with Egypt in economy, trade, training and technical cooperation. Chretien hailed the role of the Egyptian and Arab role in Canada, Moussa said, adding that the talks covered the impediments hampering the Middle East peace.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Atef Ebeid agreed with his visiting Canadian counterpart Jean Chretien on beefing up the volume of trade exchange from about $200 million annually at present to some 1billion over the coming five years.
In statements to reporters following Wednesday's formal session of talks between the Egyptian and Canadian sides, Ebeid sounded upbeat about the possibility of reaching the targeted fivefold increase in trade dealings between the two countries, with more Egyptian exports of textiles and handicrafts standing a good chance of accessing the Canadian market.
Egypt has asked for an increase in the number of scholarships offered by Canadian universities to Egyptian graduates for extra studies and training in the field of advanced technology, Ebeid said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Amr Moussa voiced Egypt's high appreciation of the role played by Canada in peacekeeping operations and in dealing with the developing countries.
In statements made Tuesday, Moussa welcomed the current visit to Egypt by Canadian Premier Jean Chretien.
"Chretien will also have talks with his Egyptian counterpart Atef Ebeid and a number of ministers," he said.
"A number of agreements will be signed during Chretien's visit to Egypt within the context of promoting Egyptian-Canadian relations in the various fields," he further added.
Speaking of the Egyptian community in Canada, Moussa said it is playing an effective role that is highly appreciated by the Canadian government.
Asked if the Palestinian refugee issue will be raised during Chretien's visit, as Canada is chairing a working group on the question, Moussa said this topic is debated in the multilateral negotiations.
Moussa praised Canada's role regarding the refugee question through which Canada has been endeavoring to reach a breakthrough that could serve this issue.
The Canadian Prime Minister will confer with President Hosni Mubarak and Prime Minister Atef Ebeid on promoting bilateral cooperation, especially on the economic domain, as well as trade exchange.
Talks are also to take up a possible Canadian contribute, in pushing forward the middle east peacemaking drive and optimal utilization of Canadian technical expertise in peacekeeping, demining and refugees' related issue.
Egypt and Canada seek to boost economic and trade cooperation via setting up a free-trade zone and Canada's contribution to development projects especially in the field of infrastructure, water and technology transfer.
Canada and Egypt established diplomatic relations and opened embassies in 1964. Since then, the two countries have enjoyed excellent relations and strengthened their political, economic and cultural ties. Both countries are members of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Trade Organization. In addition, Egypt is an associate member of la Francophonie.
Cultural and educational exchanges between the countries occur frequently. Canada is an important destination for Egyptian immigrants. Most of the Egyptian-Canadian population of 75,000 lives in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Canada and Egypt also cooperate in the area of law enforcement and in 1997 signed an agreement on the transfer of sentenced persons.
Peace and security
The search for a just and comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle Last; is key to Canadian-Egyptian relations, which continue to expand into new areas of cooperation.
Egypt and Canada worked closely in the Refugee Working Group, chaired by the latter, and both have helped to relocate Palestinian refugees from Canada Camp in the Sinai to Gaza.
Canada first gained prominence in Egypt with its successful peacekeeping intervention in the 1956 Suez Canal crisis. Canada is currently active in two missions relating to Egypt. The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, which includes 11 Canadian personnel, assists in supervising the general armistice agreements concluded separately between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. The Multinational Force and Observers group, in which 30 Canadian Forces personnel serve, is an independent peacekeeping mission to prevent violations of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and verify adherence of treaty provisions in accordance with the Camp David Accords.
Egyptian and Canadian forces are serving together in peacekeeping operations in the democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Timor and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Trade and investment
Two-way trade between the countries is growing as Egypt reforms its economy and expands its basic infrastructure. As it does so, significant opportunities exist for Canadian firms in the transportation, energy, environment and telecommunications sectors.
In 1999, Canadian exports to Egypt were valued at $187 million, an increase of over 63 per cent since 1993. Exports included paper, cardboard mechanical and electrical machinery, and cereals. Canadian imports from Egypt in 1999 totaled nearly $40 million, consisting of knitted and textile goods, mineral fuel, rugs and flooring, and clothing.
A focus on the environmental sector in Egypt has led to an increase in Canadian exports of environmental machinery and services. In 1998, Industry Canada and the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency signed a letter of understanding to enhance environmental cooperation. In 1998 and in November 1999, the departments of Industry and Foreign Affairs and International Trade led missions of Canadian environmental firms to Egypt. An Egyptian delegation participated in Globe 2000.
Canada and Egypt signed a double-taxation agreement in 1983 and a foreign investment protection agreement in 1996, which facilitate the work of Canadian and Egyptian exporters and investors. The Export Development Corporation (EDC) supports transactions in the Egyptian market and in 1999 participated in financing the Sidi Kriir power station, the first built-own-operate-transfer arrangement in the country. The EDC also signed a $10 million US line of credit with the United Bank of Egypt.
Canadian investment in Egypt, estimated to exceed $250 million, is growing as Egypt continues to reform its economy and privatize its public sector companies. Canadian investment has concentrated in the petroleum sector, but is now expanding into the areas of telecommunications, transport and the environment. More than 15 Canadian companies now have offices in Egypt.
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