China’s maritime Silk Road relies heavily on access to the Suez Canal, so it is not surprising that soon after the BRI was announced in 2013, work began on a multi-billion-dollar upgrade of the canal.
Chinese investment has washed into the country and Egyptian banks continue to profit from the flow of new business, but there haven’t been many banks involved in such a variety of projects as Banque Misr, making it the best bank in the region for BRI.
Misr, led by chair Mohamed Mahmoud Ahmed Eletreby, has been involved in a number of innovative transport projects to complement business brought in by the new Suez Canal development. This includes funding for development of an electric train line between El-Salam City and 10th Ramadan City and the establishment of a new railway line between Ain Sokhna City and El-Alamein City.
The bank has also worked closely with the government to support and finance the development of Egypt’s new capital city, including a monorail project and purpose-built industrial zones. The new capital, currently without a name, will be located 50km east of Cairo, will cover 700 square kilometres and house up to five million people. This year, China State Construction Engineering Corporation started work on the city project which is due for completion in three and a half years.
Mohamed Mahmoud Ahmed Eletreby
In September 2017, Misr signed a memorandum of understanding with China Development Bank for a loan denominated in renminbi. The volume of trade between Egypt and China exceeded $10 billion in 2017 and the use of the renminbi in Egypt – and the rest of the Middle East and Africa – is aimed at promoting the internationalization of the currency while bringing the cost of business down.
Misr has a representative office in Guangzhou, which it uses to take advantage of increasing cross-border trade and investment between Egypt and China. The bank’s support of BRI goes beyond project finance and memoranda of understanding; it has sponsored and attended a number conferences, exhibitions and forums, which aim to deepen Chinese ties to the region.