By Vice Chairman Choe Nam-suk, Reporter Paul Kim
Ambassador Haem M. Fahmy of the Republic of Egypt in Seoul said, “The bilateral relations between Egypt and Korea are on the rise on all fronts.” Then he said, “In addition to many Korean companies already working and having factories and investments in Egypt like Samsung and LG, recently there has been a clear and rising interest by Korean Companies to invest in Egypt, as we notice by the many inquiries and visits by representatives of those companies to Egypt.”
Ambassador Fahmy made the statement at a reception he and Mrs. Fahmy hosted at their residence in Seoul on the occasion of 67th National Day of Egypt on July 23, 2019. (See excerpts from the speech at the end of this report.)
The reception was attended by many Korean and international guests, the ambassadors and their spouses, in particular. The guests included Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Kang-Hyeon for Economic Affairs and President Choi Yeon-ho of the Korea-Africa Foundation. The Korea Post reportorial team covering the reception was headed by Vice-Chairman Choe Nam-suk.
Among the important guests in attendance from the Seoul Diplomatic Corps were Ambassadors Luis Henrique Sobreira Lopes of Brazil, Juan Carlos Caiza Rosero of Colombia, Alfred Xuereb of Holy See, Stephan Auer of Germany, Vitaliy Fen of Uzbekistan, Myrat Mammetalyyev of Turkmenistan, Abdul Hakim Atarud of Afghanistan, Daul Matute-Mejia of Peru, Irineo Raul Silvero Silvagni of Paraguay, Michael Reiterer of Delegation of The European Union, Hayder Shiya Al-Barrak of Iraq, Antoine Azzam of Lebanon, Sripriya Ranganathan of India, Harry Harris of the United States of America, Carlos Victor Boungou of Gabon, Peteris Vaivars of Latvia, and Ambassador Matilda Swilla Masuka of Tanzania.
Egypt is a very important country in Korea.
According to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Egypt has a land space five times as large as the Korean peninsula and a population totaling 140 million.
The first civilization of mankind began in Egypt along the River Nile 5,000 years before Christ and has led the countries of the Arab world.
Korea and Egypt established diplomatic relations at the consular level in 1961 and formal relations in 1995.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador:
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all today, for the second time since my arrival in Korea, in the house of Egypt, to celebrate the 67th anniversary of one of the world’s most famous revolutions, one that had a profound impact on local, regional and global politics.
While it will always be identified in history books for the inspiration it gave people worldwide, particularly in the fight for independence and liberation from colonization, it continues to influence the lives of Egyptian people in many unique and interesting ways.
Furthermore, Egypt’s 1952 revolution contributed in a major way, inspired by Egypt’s long history and geography and regional affiliations, in shaping and asserting the modern and postcolonial common political identity of Arab as well as African nations.
In this regard, Egypt is honored this year to be the Chair of the African Union, one of the most vibrant and promising regional organizations worldwide. Egypt is proud that under its chairmanship of the AU, the Continental African Free Trade Area came into existence on the 30th of May 2019. As the largest Free Trade area in the world to be created, after the establishment of the World Trade Organization in 1995, it opens vast and unique opportunities for trade and investments.
Egypt would like in this regard to inviting the Government and the Private Sector of the Republic of Korea to seize this opportunity and articulate a bolder and much more engaging policy framework that places the new rising and most promising African economic space at the forefront of Korea’s trade and investment map. Egypt, as the current chair of the African Union, is ready to assist in any way it can to make this happen.
Domestically, Egypt recently has experienced two great revolutions on the 25th of January 2011 and on the 30th of June 2013, both intended to correct the course of action, and bring the country back on track for two of the most important principles of the 1952 revolution, that is achieving development and social justice under a properly functioning democracy.
In this context, Egypt embarked on one of the most ambitious economic reform programs in its recent history, and in spite of the painful measures that had to be taken to put the economy back on track, the results were more than impressive.
According to the Economist’s list, Egypt ranked third among the Fastest Growing Economies in the world during the first quarter of 2019 with a rate of growth reaching 5.6%, targeting to reach a rate of 6% for the fiscal year 2019-2020.
Egypt’s economic reform program embodies bold measures to attract and expand investment and trade opportunities. Among the most promising measures in the regard are in areas including the establishment of industrial and technology zones and megaprojects such as; the Suez Canal Economic Zone intended to be the Hong Kong of Africa and the Middle East, the New Administrative Capital, as well as other new smart cities. Egypt is also expected to open one of the largest museums in the world, the Grand Egyptian museum in 2020.
Against this background, bilateral relations between Egypt and Korea are on the rise on all fronts. In addition to many Korean companies already working and having factories and investments in Egypt like Samsung and LG, recently there has been a clear and rising interest by Korean Companies to invest in Egypt, as we notice by the many inquiries and visits by representatives of those companies to Egypt. However, we are still at a very early stage in harnessing the potential of our bilateral relations and the sky is the limit of what we can achieve together.
Since my arrival in Korea in December 2017 more than twenty high-level delegations from Egypt have visited Korea, a rate that is unprecedented in our bilateral relations.
Prominent among those delegations was the visits by; the Chief Justice of the Egyptian Supreme Court with four of his deputy chief justices to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Korean Supreme Court, the visit by the Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament in December 2018, as well as the most recent high level ministerial visit in February 2019 by our ministers of: Investment and International Cooperation, Finance and the Chairman of Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone. During the high-level ministerial visit, a successful investment Forum was held in cooperation with the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industries in partnership with the newly found Korea Africa Foundation and its new dynamic leadership under H.E. Ambassador Choi Yeon-ho.
The most recent visit to Egypt by H.E. Ambassador Yun Kang-Hyeon and the many meetings he had last June was a clear manifestation of the growing bilateral relations between Egypt and Korea, and we are looking forward to President Moon Jae-in to visit Cairo in response to the invitation extended to him by H.E. Abdel Fatah El Sisi, President of Egypt.
Egypt appreciates and supports all the great and relentless efforts exerted by H.E. President Moon Jae-in and his administration to establish permanent peace and achieve prosperity on the Korean Peninsula. While the road towards peace seems bumpy sometimes, we remain hopeful and optimistic that all those efforts will pay off in the interest of regional and global peace, security and stability.
The Republic of Korea is a great nation that achieved literally an economic miracle in a short span of time, with the attainment of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula the Korean people will write another bright chapter in the history of humanity injecting much-needed energy in the global economy and strengthening the regional and global fabric of peace and prosperity. I thank you all for kind presence and attention.