I would like to express my sincere appreciation to this distinguished audience, particularly the Chairman of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce (Mr. Ahmed Mohamed El Wakil), Vice Chairman of the Alexandria Business Association (Mr. Eng. Alaa Zahran), and the businessmen of Alexandria, for your willingness to allocate some of your valuable time to accept my invitation to tonight’s business dinner.
The objective of tonight’s program is to enhance relations already existing between the Indonesian Embassy and the businessmen of Alexandria, and to open a pathway to further bilateral economic cooperation between our two brotherly countries.
In terms of trade, Indonesia and Egypt have experienced growing business interactions in the recent years marked by last year’s monumental achievement of bilateral trade amounting to US$ 1.1 billion. This means that in 2008 we have already surpassed the target of our bilateral trade volume of US$ 1 billion, which was set to be achieved in 2010. With the collective dedication of the Governments and business communities of Egypt and Indonesia, it is possible to increase the amount of trade to US$ 1.5 billion or even US$ 2 billion in 2010.
Our trade has evolved not just in terms of value, but also in terms of types of commodities which represent a wide variety of products ranging from CPO to confectioneries, from phosphate rocks to fruits. This is an indication of a healthy trade relations between the two countries whose present form is attributable to the hard work and cooperation of the business community. For this, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Egyptian businessmen who have contributed a great deal to this achievement.
However, we are aware that despite the present robust bilateral economic relations between Indonesia and Egypt, there are still plenty room for improvement. There is no denying the fact that our bilateral cooperation is far from those that have been achieved with our traditional trading partners, particularly the industrialized nations. But in times of crisis like we witness today, we cannot but combine our efforts to look for opportunities outside our traditional partners who are currently faced with economic contractions.
Indonesia and Egypt both are experiencing positive and significant growth in the current global economic crisis, albeit it is not as high as the numbers achieved prior to the crisis. This fact alone proves that we have the potentials to persevere. For Indonesia, Egypt is the right partner for our effort to curb the negative impact of the crisis, and I do believe that Egypt shares similar conviction.
Currently, we still see a number of Egyptian and Indonesian products that have been imported into our respective countries via other nations, which translated into more costs and less profit. I believe that more benefit can be gained if we have more interactions and direct trading relations between Egyptian and Indonesian businessmen.
I personally hope that all of you would continue your business relations with Indonesia and the Indonesian Embassy is more than happy to work as your partner. In this regard, if any of the distinguished guests have any inquiry or would like to have consultations in maintaining your business relations with Indonesia, as well as to look for a solution to the problems you are facing, do not hesitate to contact our Embassy to seek facilitation on these matters.
I would also like to call upon the businessmen of Alexandria to make use of the Egyptian-Indonesian Business Council that serve as a forum for Egyptian businessmen to forge and share business linkages with the business community in Indonesia.
In the spirit of enhancing our bilateral economic cooperation, I would like to invite you to attend the 24th Trade Expo Indonesia, which will be held in Jakarta from 28 October to 1 November 2009, which will showcase all Indonesian export products ranging from industrial, mining, agricultural to craft products. Egyptian participation in the Expo has grown from 21 businessmen in 2007 to 31 businessmen in 2008, 9 of which had never had prior business relation with Indonesia. The value of transaction yielded by the Egyptian participation in the 2008 Expo amounted to US$ 28.47 million and ranked as the highest value achieved by non-traditional trading partner.
Let us repeat, or even surpass last year’s achievement in this year’s Expo by ensuring your participation in the event. I will personally accompany the Egyptian business delegation to the event to make sure that our intention to take advantage of the business opportunities in the Expo would be rightly fulfilled.