Egypt is rolling out the red carpet for India Inc to invest in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, as it expects the bilateral trade to nearly double to USD 8 billion by 2022.

The Arab nation is also in talks with New Delhi to establish an India Economic Zone at the Suez Canal Economic Zone, on the models of the ones established by Russia and China and is looking at asset-light industries like food processing, packaging and IT, Egyptian ambassador Heba Salaheldin Elmarassi said here Tuesday.

India Inc led by over 50 companies have already invested over USD 3 billion across Egypt, she said, adding while companies from there have invested around USD 150 million here.

“Indian companies are welcome to explore emerging investment opportunities in the economic zone, especially in sectors like chemicals, petrochemicals, pharma, textiles, and auto & auto components among others,” Elmarassi said at an event organized by the industry lobby CII.

Companies from agricultural and agri-processing, IT, telecom, power, renewables are also welcome to explore investment opportunities in the economic zone, she added.

India is the sixth largest export market for Egypt and the 10th largest source of imports and the bilateral trade stood in favour of the Northeastern African nation at USD 4.4 billion in 2018, up from USD 3.5 billion in the previous fiscal year.

“There is a vast potential and we are targeting to boost the trade volumes between the two countries to reach USD 8 billion by 2022,” Elmarassi told PTI.

India’s export to Egypt stood at USD 1.6 billion in FY8, up from USD 1.2 billion in 2017, while imports stood at USD 2.7 billion and USD 2.3 billion respectively, leading to a trade deficit.

Egypt is trying to diversify its trade beyond the traditional items of dates, grapes, strawberry and green beans.

She said already over 5o Indian companies are operating in here country, including the Tatas, Ashok Leyland, M&M, Dabur, Marico, Forbes Marshall, Kirloskar, Asian Paints, Gail India, Sun Pharma, Pidilite, Sanmar, and Essel Propack among others, with total investments of around USD 3 billion.

The Suez Canal Economic Zone, one of the main projects where Egypt is trying to attract foreign investments, is a free zone and trade hub along the banks of the newly-expanded Suez Canal.

Strategically located on the main trade route between Europe and Asia, over 8 per cent of global trade passes through the canal annually. Spanning 461 km, which is almost two- thirds of Singapore, the zone consists of two integrated areas, two development areas and four large ports.

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