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Saturday, June 1, 2024

Statement over Egypt signing agreement with PRC on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

There were recent reports of Egypt signing a package of agreements with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) including the joint development plan for the Belt and Road Initiative. We urge Egypt to carefully evaluate the potential risks involved in agreements with the PRC under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) framework. The recent signing of joint agreements under the  BRI between the PRC and the Arab Republic of Egypt has sparked concern regarding impact of Chinese-led initiatives. While Egypt has been a signatory of the BRI since 2016, questions arise about the credibility and effectiveness of PRC’s promises within this framework.

The PRC’s over-promising and under-delivering track record with the BRI, coupled with significant international backlash, raises doubts about the true intentions behind these agreements. The rebranding of the BRI from the “project of the century” to “small and beautiful” appears more like a strategic maneuver to navigate criticism rather than a genuine commitment to sustainable development.

Despite the joint agreements covering various sectors such as transportation, energy, and infrastructure, concerns persist about the lack of transparency and accountability within Chinese-led projects. Reports of distressed borrowers, unfinished projects, and compromised democratic values cast a shadow over the BRI’s legitimacy and effectiveness, especially in the Developing countries.

Egypt should take heed of Italy’s example and thoroughly scrutinize the terms and conditions of any proposed BRI projects to ensure they align with the country’s strategic interests and uphold its sovereignty.

Recently, Italy’s decision to withdraw from BRI agreements highlights the significance of conducting thorough evaluations and due diligence when entering into such partnerships. While infrastructure development is essential for economic growth, it is imperative that nations prioritize transparency, accountability, and long-term sustainability in their collaborative endeavors.

Furthermore, the ambiguity surrounding the distinction between bilateral agreements and BRI projects raises serious questions about PRC’s motives and the true beneficiaries of these initiatives. The absence of formal rules and membership protocols within the BRI framework only adds to the skepticism surrounding PRC’s intentions.

As Egypt contemplates its choices for infrastructure development and foreign investment, we  urge the Egyptian government to explore a wide range of partnerships and financing mechanisms that prioritize mutual respect, transparency, and sustainable development. We would also request the Egyptian government to reconsider its decision on the BRI and avoiding any financial partnership with the PRC.

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