Egypt-Canada Economic and Investment Relations
Canada, Egypt shed light on experiences to overcome pandemic
Shady Salah – Media in Toronto
Canada Arab Business Council, in coordination with the Egyptian Embassy in Ottawa, on Tuesday organized a high-level virtual dialogue on the Egypt-Canada economic and investment relations with the participation of Dr. Hala El-Said, Egyptian Minister of Planning and Economic Development and the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade. Both ministers provided the attendees with a detailed explanation of their respective governments’ steps taken to flout the current COVID-19 pandemic economically and to minimize its effects on their citizens. “Our first priority had to be to flatten the curve, our first priority had to keep Canadians safe and. And so, at the very start of this, that is the underlying premise to which we have made any decisions in fact maybe even all of our decisions during this time. So whether it is to help Canadians, stay at home immediately,” Minister Mary Ng said. “At the beginning of the outbreak, certainly here as we were seeing it in Canada, making sure that Canadians regular people were not worried about how to put food on the table or have a roof over their head, we introduced benefits like the Canada emergency response benefit to which there are you know over 8 million Canadians that have taken up that benefit, particularly if it’s a temporary benefit in an effort to flatten the curve and Canada.”
She also noted to the several programs adopted by the government to help families in Canada overcome the current pandemic and to encourage all businesses to keep their workers on their payroll.
For her part, Egyptian Minister, Dr. Hala Al-Said said that her country has taken many swift measures very quickly to deal with the crisis, whether on the fiscal side or the economic one. “For the economic side, we have started immediately with the fiscal stimulus package. This fiscal stimulus package reached hundred billion Egyptian Pounds to support sectors, and to support people,” she said. Egypt put more emphasis also on the fiscal policies to help Egyptians, noting that the Central Bank of Egypt have taken very quick steps in order to decrease interest rate by 300 basis points which was a major drop in the interest rate in order to facilitate access to finance and access to credit, saying it was pre-emptive move to support the economy in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. “A lot of measures have been taken to postpone all sovereign duties and sovereign payments to the government whether they are taxes or municipality fees. This whole had been postponed. A lot of support have been given to sectors that were extremely affected,” Dr. Hala added. Egyptian Central Bank’s monetary policy committee cut the overnight lending rate to 10.25% from 13.25% and the overnight deposit rate to 9.25% from 12.25%. Those are the lowest rates since early 2016, before Egypt embarked on a three-year IMF-backed economic reform programme. The two ministers agreed at the end of the webinar to continue discussion on ways of fostering bilateral relations in various domains.