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Eight Years of China-Egypt TEDA Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone: Development Across Civilizations

  In the afternoon of 21st day (Beijing Time), Chinese President Xi Jinping and Egyptian President Sisi attended the nameplate unveiling ceremony of second phase of China-Egypt TEDA Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone. Overseas Economic and Trade Cooperation Zones are major spots of foreign investment in recent years. To go global, enterprises shall work together instead of fighting alone. At present, there are a total of six cooperation zones in Africa where China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone is considered to be the best. Since its establishment in 2008, the Cooperation Zone has been gradually developed from a Gobi desert at the Red Sea Coast to a modern industrial park. It is praised as the China-Egypt cooperation bridge.

  Since the beginning, TEDA is responsible for the construction, development and operation of the Cooperation Zone. Our reporters interviewed Zhang Bingjun, President of Tianjin TEDA Investment Holding Co., Ltd. in Egypt.

  What China-Egypt TEDA Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone to TEDA is what one ancient civilization to another. In the 80s of the last century, TEDA started as a salt-alkali wasteland in the Bohai Sea and created a miracle among China’s development areas. Over ten years later, TEDA faces another Gobi Desert in the south of Suez Canal, northern Africa and the west of Red Sea.

  Zhang Bingjun said, Suez Area is very similar as Tianjin Area. It is also a region more than 100 kilometers away from the capital and is close to a port called Ain Sokhna; it is also close to a big city called Suez Governorate; and it is also a Gobi Desert in term of landform. This is exactly what Tianjin looked like in the year when it was determined to construct the development area.

  The construction of Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone in the Gobi Desert was determined by the leaders of the two countries. In 1998 when the Egyptian president visited China, he asked China for helping boost the Egyptian economy after investigation on TEDA; in 2008, China proposed to build 6 development areas in Africa, one of which is Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone in Egypt. TEDA won the bid and started the construction.

  However, even if the geographical conditions are very similar, the development process is made in another piece of land. Egypt and China are very different from basic national conditions, policies and laws, cultural customs to living habits. The cooperation was full of difficulties from the beginning. Zhang Bingjun said, we were faced with difficulties every day due to poor infrastructure, more security risks and low efficiency.

  Zhang Bingjun recalled, it was difficult to send a fax, needless to say surfing the Internet. Moreover, phones are expense. There was only one highway from Cairo to Suez, but was frequently encountered with breakpoints.

  How shall we overcome the different customs and cultures? Zhang Bingjun made an example. When the first batch of personnel came in the late 90s, the first thing they did was hard to image-sweeping mines, mines left from the Middle East War. The natural conditions were very difficult. Moreover, it is about punctuality. It is hard for us to understand.

  It is common for them to be late for 1 hour or 2 hours. They don’t feel sorry, but we are very angry. The efficiency is really low. It took for 10 years to build the three small buildings of first phase of development area.

  Zhang Bingjun said, the first batch of Chinese enterprises were mostly small and medium-sized. That period witnessed unity. Due to poor medical conditions, employees tried not to get sick; they must to live together as a family and cook together. In 2011, Egypt fell into political turmoil, robbery occurred in streets. African men helped the Cooperation Zone out of the disasters.

  The Egyptian employees persuaded a batch of unknown Egyptians to leave the industrial park. As the Chinese people cannot be armed, the Egyptian people went home to took guns and defend the park. As a result, the park escaped the disasters basically without losses.

  In this piece of 1.3KM2 Park, the friendship between the two peoples was tested again and again. As the park has gradually developed, it became the top choice for Chinese enterprises to invest and develop in Egypt. Here is gathered with legal advisers, customs offices, banks, hotel apartments, bilingual translations, China-Egypt advisory offices. Thus, the Chinese enterprises going overseas don’t have to encounter the “unaccompanied and struggling” dilemma, and the Egyptian market advantages began to shine.

  Zhang Bingjun introduced, there have settled 68 enterprises so far, most of which developed very well. They pay taxed amounted to nearly EGP 200 million to the Egyptian Government in a year. Jushi Group is the one with best development as they are very suitable for investment in Egypt due to locally produced raw materials and product types. Their products are mostly exported to the North America and Europe. There are no trade quotas and barriers in Egypt. It is not only close to the origin of raw materials, but also is near users.

  Now the Cooperation Zone entered the new development stage as the Chinese “the Belt and Road” Strategy meets the Egyptian “Suez Canal Corridor”. It has been declared to expand capacity in the park and build the Six KM2 Expansion Area in three phases. It can accommodate 200 enterprises, attract investment amounted to US $ 3 billion and sales amounted to US $ 10 billion and provide over 40,000 job opportunities. At last, the international industrial base of “industry and life” and modern new city are formed.

  Fuad, the news spokesman of the Egyptian Suez Canal Administration, said, the Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone is the most dynamic core of Egypt and represents the future of Egyptian development. It will boost the Egyptian economy, attract investors from around the world and massive Egyptian labor and introduce more international experience to Egypt. I believe, Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone is the real future for Egypt.

  

  

 
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