16 JANUARY 2002

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Shipping line potential for Malta, Egypt

By Miriam Dunn

The concept of Malta providing a gateway or bridge between Europe and Africa is not new.

But one leading Egyptian journalist, who was on the island last week to cover a forthcoming Malta trade delegation to Cairo, believes there are more far-reaching business opportunities to be tapped, especially in shipping transport.

Mahmoud Mourad deputy chief editor of Egypt’s leading daily newspaper, ‘Al Ahram’ highlighted the potential for co-operation further afield than the Arab world, citing Latin America as an example.

"Latin America is exporting a lot of products to Europe, the Arab world, Egypt, the Gulf areas and we export many products to them," he said. "It has often cropped up in conversation that there is no regular sea line between our region and Latin America and it is a very long journey.

"It would make sense to set up three or four central ports along the route and although Genoa was being cited as one possibility, there is no reason it shouldn’t be Malta."

Mr Mourad, who will be writing a feature on Malta in ‘Al Ahram’ and also organising two joint seminars on Malta and Egypt, explained that establishing a regular shipping line to Latin America could be an important step forward in strengthening trade relations between the two countries.

He also highlighted the potential that exists in setting up joint ventures.

"There is plenty of scope for assisting each other, since Malta makes many food products, for example, but has no raw materials, while Egypt has many," he said. "In this way, Malta could forge links with us on many ventures, be they textiles, agriculture or foodstuffs."

The journalist also pointed out that Egypt has the advantages it gains from its industrial free zones, alongside the privileges of being a ‘Comessa’ member, which allows it to send any product finished in Egypt to 30 African countries and 20 Arab countries free of charge.
Mr Mourad lays great weight on the principle of co-operation.

He added that he would be organising two seminars looking at the countries’ different cultures since this, he believes, is the best starting point.

"Although our populations might be very different, neither of us is a superpower and we are both looking for a place in this crowded world," he said. "In this way, co-operation is the key."

The Malta trade delegation travels to Egypt between 10 - 13 February.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt