The Belt and Road Initiative will "open up huge opportunities" for cooperation between Egypt and China in terms of mutual trade and investment, said a top Egyptian researcher.[Special coverage]
"The philosophy of the initiative is based on the concept of development as well as trade," said Mohamed Fayez Farahat, head of the Asian Studies program in state-run Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
Proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims at reviving ancient land and sea trade routes that link China with many countries in Asia, African and Europe via trade and infrastructure networks.
"The initiative by nature provides support for development process in Egypt because the maritime path of the Belt and Road would pass through the Suez Canal," said Farahat who is scheduled to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on May 14 and 15.
Egypt has recently adopted reform policies and austerity measures, borrowing loans to revive its economy that has been ailing due to the eruption of two uprisings and the ouster of two presidents which caused flee of investments and tourists.
"The Belt and Road Initiative depends on huge financing capabilities and institutions that stand behind it, and Egypt could benefit by getting support and loans for carrying out developmental projects with better and easier conditions unlike the difficult system of the western financing institutions," Farahat added.
The diversity and the richness of the initiative's aspects that would cover coordinating policies, advancing the infrastructure and integrating the financial cooperation among the partners, would create several fields of cooperation with Egypt, he explained.
Farahat foresees the logistics, the ports and the infrastructure of the developmental projects "would constitute a breakthrough of cooperation between the two countries."
Given the problems facing globalization in recent years, the Asian Affairs researcher predicts China will witness "massive transitions."
"China which represents a successful model in development, essentially based on industrial fields, would pay more attention to the logistic sector to push the train of economic development in the region including Egypt," he said.
Egypt's parliament on Sunday passed a long-awaited investment law that would create incentives the country needs to bring back investors after years of turmoil.
The new law is expected to boost much-needed investments by cutting down bureaucracy, especially for starting new logistics and ports projects around the Suez Canal.
China is the largest investor in the development of Egypt's Suez Canal Corridor which emerged in 1998. The Suez Canal Economicl Zone, covering a total area of 461 sq km and comprising of four sections and six ports, would facilitate the presence of foreign investors.
"I expect China would contribute largely to enhancing the developmental sector in Egypt, whose peace and stability are the base of those of the Middle East," Farahat said, adding that by supporting Egypt, China would secure those mega infrastructure projects that would pass through the Belt and Road Initiative's path."
As a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Egypt could also benefit from funding its infrastructure projects with easier conditions, he added.
The expert, who is expected to deliver a speech during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on the challenges that would face the implementation of the initiative, "sees large scope for the initiative's success."
The expert sees the Belt and Road Initiative needs to get out of the official governmental garment and be publicized at the people levels.
"The countries along the Belt and Road path should work on marketing the initiative as a project that the people believe in, which is the challenge now."
However, he pointed out some factors of success including that China enjoys a high level of credibility among the developing and growing countries; it has very good and special ties with different international partners, and its history lacks any negative implications with regards to imperialism or hegemony.
Reiterating that "the initiative was built on the idea of openness and not conflict," the expert explained the initiative seeks cooperation and integration which manifested in China's memberships in the Arab League, G20, the Asian Bank and ASEAN.
He also hailed the initiative because it does not seek conflict with the existing international system, but integration with the world financial institution like the World Bank.
"This is the first time for launching an international initiative that would seek development, especially the infrastructure, besides trade," Farahat said, highlighting it as another factor for success.