Egypt and UK ministers launch new association council in London

Liz Truss and Sameh Shoukry sign statement of intent after talks

Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met her Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry for talks. AFP
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The UK’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her Egyptian counterpart have signed a joint statement of intent to reform renewable energy regulations at the launch in London of a new platform to develop strategic partnerships.

The “platform for co-operation”, built on an agreement signed by the nations in December 2020, was created this week at the inaugural meeting of the UK-Egypt Association Council.

Ms Truss and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry took the opportunity to explore prospects for enhanced economic co-operation between the countries and agreed to increase bilateral trade and investment.

The two also discussed several matters of mutual concern, including the food crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine and the hosting of Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh in November.

Describing the meeting as "fruitful" in a statement released by both ministers, they welcomed a number of successful commercial collaborations, including: the two-line Cairo Monorail project featuring trains manufactured in Derby, central England, and supported by UK Export Finance; the purchase by the Egyptian Navy of two ex-Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships; investment of $80 million for the opening of a 66-megawatt solar farm by Globeleq; and the launch of commercial operations at the Lekela wind farm in northern Egypt with a joint fund of $325m.

Ms Truss and Mr Shoukry pledged to work towards improving market access across a number of industries and sectors, and to tackle any barriers impeding trade and the sharing of expertise.

The UK and Egypt emphasised their commitment to strengthening bilateral co-operation and investment in health care and education, given both fields’ direct effect on levelling-up, job creation and enhancing the quality of public services.

A “new phase” of technical collaboration between the UK’s National Health Service and Egypt’s healthcare system are among the projects in the pipeline, the statement said.

Ms Truss and Mr Shoukry also discussed Egypt’s preparations to host Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh after taking over the presidency from Glasgow.

The ministers said they planned to work together to deliver the “ambitious outcomes at Cop27” and to build on the Glasgow Climate Pact. The package of decisions, aimed at turning the 2020s into a decade of climate action, was signed by nearly 200 nations at Cop26 and included, for the first time, a call on nations to phase down unabated coal power and inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the latest meeting looked at ways the UK could support Egypt with Cop27, including the financing of environmentally friendly projects and investing in the transition to green economy.

Last month, Egypt launched the official website for the next climate change conference.

The UK Foreign Office said it “commended Egypt’s leadership and efforts on renewable energy generation and opportunities for British investors and firms within the energy sector”.

The statement said human rights were also discussed but it was unclear whether Truss raised the case of detained British-Egyptian activist, Alaa Abd El Fattah, and the British wife of an Egyptian rights defender under a travel ban.

Their families had urged her to put pressure on her Egyptian counterpart when they spoke. The Foreign Office has previously said it "continues to raise Alaa Abd El Fattah’s case at the highest levels of the Egyptian government".

On Wednesday, Mr Shoukry met representatives of British business and financial institutions to discuss Egypt’s economic reforms and opportunities to invest in the green economy.

He referred to challenges posed by the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

The two warring countries have long been the main suppliers of wheat to Egypt, the world's largest importer of the grain.

Since the Russian invasion began in February, Egypt has tried to manage the disruption of food supply through a number of measures, including a short-term ban on exporting certain foods and increasing the amount paid to domestic wheat farmers.

Updated: July 08, 2022, 6:19 PM