Alastair Burt, the United Kingdom’s Minister for the Middle East, will arrive in Cairo on Wednesday to meet with his Egyptian counterparts to discuss British-Egyptian cooperation and UK support to Egypt, with economic and educational reform being the main focus of the visit.
Moreover, Burt plans to discuss regional issues and international counter terrorism efforts with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. He is scheduled to held meetings with Egypt’s ministers of interior and education, as well as business leaders, according to a press statement released by the British embassy in Cairo.
UK is Egypt’s top economic and investment partner, with investments in the first half (H1) of 2016/17 alone amounting to $2.9bn. British ambassador to Egypt John Casson has announced earlier in Feburary that the UK is planning to invest more than $13bn in the next five years, especially in the oil and gas sector.
Burt will discuss new investments and further UK support for Egypt’s economic reform programme, through providing additional technical assistance to reform policies in the ministries of finance, investment, industry, petroleum, and education. In addition to the implementation of the $150m support agreed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in his meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in February.
“I look forward to my first visit to Egypt following my re-appointment as a UK foreign office minister. The UK is a longstanding friend of Egypt, and this visit to Cairo is an ideal opportunity for me to discuss further UK-Egyptian collaboration in many areas, including education and economic reform,” said Burt.
This is Burt’s first visit to Egypt since his appointment to the new position as the first-ever joint State Minister for the Middle East and North Africa for both the Foreign Office and Department for International Development.
Furthermore, job creation is one of the main topics on the visit’s agenda due to its essential role in the Egyptian economic development. Consequently, Burt will meet with young Egyptian social entrepreneurs. According to the statement, the UK is working with the Egyptian government on licensing reform to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start their own business, which will improve the investment environment, benefitting both Egyptian companies and UK investors.
On the other hand, meeting between Egyptian Minister for Education Tarek Shawky and Burt is scheduled to take place in order to discuss the UK’s support for the Egyptian government’s progressive plans to reform education, which includes technical assistance to the Ministry for Education.
The British government provide support to education in Egypt through various scholarships such as Chevening programme, which gives fully paid scholarships to study at the UK’s top universities, a worldwide programme, where Egypt is number one globally in the number of students applying for the scholarship.
“No country is doing more than Britain to support Egypt’s education and economy—the pivotal issues in a pivotal country for this region and the world. The UK is Egypt’s number one economic partner: the largest foreign investor in Egypt and a strong supporter of the government’s economic reform programme. And we know that alongside economic growth, education is crucial in giving dreams and opportunities for the people of Egypt. Education and economy will be at the heart of this visit to keep Britain as number one partner and take our partnership to the next level in support of the government and people of Egypt in their ambitious reform programme,” said Casson.
While in regards to counter terrorism efforts, the statement cites that both the UK and Egypt have faced senseless terrorist attacks recently, leading to the deaths of many innocent people. The visit is an important time to reinforce British-Egyptian cooperation in facing the shared threat of terrorism and how to combat radicalisation.