Egypt’s trade exchange with Ukraine is expected to remarkably hike by end of 2019, Yevhen Mykytenko, the Ukrainian ambassador said, adding, “the trade in goods was $1.65bn in 2018. I was astonished to know that Ukrainian exports to Egypt increased by 26.8% reaching $652m in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019.”
The Q1 statistics put Egypt in the third position of world’s importers of goods from Ukraine, the ambassador noted.
Ukraine considers Egypt as a key country in maintaining peace and stability in Africa and Middle East region, the ambassador further asserted, noting, “as a country that suffers itself from terrorists’ criminal acts and bears heavy losses, Ukraine is in solidarity with the Egyptian government in its determined action against violent extremism and terrorism, aimed at complete eradication of this evil that threatens today’s world order.”
Daily News Egypt interviewed Ukrainian ambassador to Egypt, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
What do you think of Egypt’s investment climate right now?
Initially, I am a new comer as I was appointed as a new ambassador to Egypt less than 2 months ago. Now, I study Egypt from the beginning as I am a former ambassador of Ukraine to Egypt from 2006 to 2010 then I left Egypt and worked in my country and abroad before I came back here at end of April 2019.
I knew Egypt very well, yet there are many changes and updates that I am eager to know more about.
The economic reforms in both countries will reflect positively on development of the joint cooperation between Egypt and Ukraine and improving the investment environment, which encourages Ukrainian companies to increase their investments in Egypt, stressing the deep relationship between Egypt and Ukraine.
The company NJSC “Naftogaz of Ukraine” implements the largest investment project in Egypt. Since the beginning of its operations, investments amounted to several hundred million US dollars.
What is the size of Ukrainian investments in Egypt? How many Ukrainian companies are operating in Egypt? Which sectors are attractive for the Ukrainian companies?
There are many Ukrainian companies investing in the Egyptian market including the small and big ones but not all of them want to announce their plans. The amount of Ukrainian investments in Egypt aren’t exactly calculated.
Egypt is a very special country for investments for the past three or four years. Egypt is a country that is open for business.
Both governmental and private sector Ukrainian companies are interested in investing in Egypt. I am sure that the amount of Ukrainian governmental investments in Egypt are more than $100m and it should be boosted to more than double.
I have already met with representatives of Ukrainian companies that are based in Egypt to know more about their plans, expansions, and how business is doing.
What about your meetings with Egyptian officials?
I met with some of Egyptian friends in the ministries including undersecretaries, ministers’ assistants including Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as this is my first duty.
I had a very warm meeting with Egypt’s minister of Tourism, Rania Al-Mashat and we discussed different plans. Ukraine is ranked number two of the tourist’s numbers that visited Egypt in 2018 following Germany that seized the first rank.
I also discussed with Al-Mashat boosting the numbers of Egyptian tourists who visit Ukraine annually.
What about your future meetings with Egyptian officials?
I plan to have many meetings with Egyptian officials over the coming couple of months before the summer holidays in August, yet I can’t reveal the names of ministers as the meetings are still under preparations.
What do you think of Egypt’s economic performance?
Egypt has implemented a number of critical economic reforms that have helped the country restore economic stability and allowed the private sector to invest and grow.
The reforms have also contributed to creating jobs and reducing unemployment, and the financial and monetary reforms have reduced both the budget deficit and inflation.
These reforms have also created challenges for Egyptians at the lower end of the income scale, which is one of the reasons the World Bank has focused on social security projects that support the most vulnerable.
Egypt is making progress with economic reforms and is “open for business.” The government repositioned Egypt as a global investment destination so country moved forwards with comprehensive improvements in the business environment.
As a result, Egypt has seen an increase in new companies coming to its shores.
Are there new Ukrainian companies consider entering the Egyptian market? Or expansions for already investing companies?
Egypt is a good investment destination and is likely to remain so in the near future. Significant investments in ports, airports, highways, and railways are planned which will lead to more efficient movement of goods.
Many Ukrainian companies are already doing business in Egypt, including NJSC “Naftogaz of Ukraine”, amongst many others.
In my opinion, Egyptian market strength is in its young workforce, strategic geographical location (the Suez Canal is the hub for world maritime traffic), and is one of the largest economies in Africa, with free trade agreements and arrangements etc.
What about the latest trade statistics between Egypt and Ukraine for Q1 of 2019? Compared to same period of 2018? Distribution of exports and imports? What are the main commodities of trade exchange?
According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, in 2018 the total trade turnover with Egypt reached $1.85bn.
In 2018, the trade in goods was $1.65bn and decreased by 19.6% compared to the previous year.
Exports made $1.55bn and decreased by 15%, while imports, $96,8m, and increased by 25,6%. Positive for Ukraine trade balance in goods was $1460.3m.
The main exports from Ukraine to Egypt were: cereals (42,8 %) and ferrous metals (39,3 %).
In Q1 of 2019 Ukraine’s export to Egypt increased by 26,8% and reached $652m. This puts Egypt in the third position of world’s importers of goods and services from Ukraine. I was astonished to know that the Ukrainian exports to Egypt reached this figure. I think that trade exchange will continue to grow by the end of the year.
There are some Egyptian vegetables that are very well-known by their quality in Ukraine such as the Egyptian potato. Ukraine is very famous with its potato but many Ukrainians love the taste of the Egyptian potato. Additionally, I would like to mention that Egyptian handcrafts are very popular in Ukraine.
Are there any business missions which will visit Egypt from Ukraine in 2019, or Egyptian missions to Ukraine?
We are working to enable our countries’ businesses to have more contact. In this regard, the organisation of business missions is a priority for the embassy. However, there are about five to seven Ukrainian business missions which will visit Egypt monthly, some of them ask for the embassy’s help while others don’t.
What about touristic cooperation with Egypt? And future plans to boost this kind of cooperation?
Every year hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians travel to Egyptian Red Sea resorts for rest and recreation and are admiring architectural and historical masterpieces in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel etc. thus demonstrating their unfeigned admiration and interest towards rich and unique history, culture, and traditions of Egyptian people.
Ukraine came in second place, after Germany, in the list of top 10 exporters of tourism to Egypt in 2018. The number of tourists amounted to 1.174 million tourists.
How do you assess the political cooperation between both countries?
We hail the climate of religious freedom and tolerance in Egypt, as well as the promotion of inter-faith dialogue, the upholding by the Egyptian state of the principles of citizenship, pluralism, and acceptance of the other, as well as renewing the religious and cultural discourse.
I am confident that Ukraine and Egypt have a huge potential for intensification of our political dialogue at all levels, including the highest one.
Moreover, we are convinced that all states that support terrorists must be held accountable and it does not matter whether terrorists operate in north Sinai, eastern parts of Ukraine or in Libya.
As a country that suffers itself from terrorists’ criminal acts and bears heavy losses, Ukraine is in solidarity with Egyptian government in its determined action against violent extremism and terrorism, aimed at complete eradication of this evil that threatens today’s world order.
What about cultural cooperation and future cultural events that the embassy will organise?
Ukraine and Egypt have a long history of successful bilateral relations which have to been nourished and further developed.
We hail and cherish close ties binding Ukraine and Egypt in various domains, including the political, economic, and cultural areas.
Hundreds of Egyptian school graduates go to Ukraine every year to obtain higher-education diplomas in various fields including of the medicine, engineering, agricultural sciences, and other spheres which are of great importance for Egyptian economy and society.
To make Egyptians more familiar with the rich and multi-faceted Ukrainian culture, we are planning to hold two major large-scale cultural events in autumn this year. The first one will be “A Week of Ukrainian Culture in Hurghada”. This city is very popular among Ukrainians who spend their vacation there.
On October 24, 26, and 28 the “INSO-Lviv” Orchestra (International Symphony Orchestra) and the National Academic Choral Capella “Dumka” will take part in staging in Luxor Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida” opera which had its première in Cairo’s Khedivial Opera House on the 24th of December in 1871. Oksana Lyniv, also from Ukraine–who is the first female chief conductor of the Graz Opera and the Graz Philharmonic Orchestra (Austria)–will conduct the opera.