Egypt said it’s willing to do whatever it takes to make Saudi Arabia feel at ease with increasing investment in the crisis-hit country, a move to secure funding that may be vital to arrest an economic decline.
Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said the North African nation is “keen to support everything that is required to increase Saudi investments,” amid Egypt’s “unprecedented support for the local and foreign private sector,” according to a statement on Friday.
Saudi Arabia pledged a year ago to invest $10bn in Egypt, which is facing its worst foreign-currency crunch in years. But so far, the Gulf region’s biggest economy has delivered only $1.3bn, when a unit of its Public Investment Fund bought state-owned stakes in four Egyptian companies.
The kingdom “has invested and is still investing in various development projects in Egypt,” Saudi Finance Minister Mohamed al-Jadaan was quoted as saying in the same statement. Earlier in the week, he said Saudi Arabia’s track record of supporting Egypt speaks for itself.
Talks between Saudi Arabia and Egypt over the purchase of Cairo-based United Bank have stalled over a disagreement about how to value the transaction, while Bloomberg reported last month that Gulf countries are waiting for more certainty on Egypt’s collapsing currency and proof it’s making deep economic reforms before committing big money.
Saudi Arabia deposited $5bn in Egypt’s central bank last year, though al-Jadaan said in Davos that his country is changing the way it offers financial help to countries, expecting reforms in exchange for cash.
The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has hit the Egyptian economy particularly hard, triggering major food and fuel-price increases and cutting off sources of vital tourism revenues. Last month, Egypt revived a plan to sell stakes in a number of state-run companies to raise cash.
Maait’s comments came after his participation in a conference in Riyadh this week, where “a friendly and brotherly conversation took place” between he and al-Jaadan, according to the finance ministry statement.
Al-Jadaan “accompanied his Egyptian counterpart to sit together in the seat next to him during the closing session, and the conversation between them was completed,” it said.
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