Experts say Belt and Road Initiative to help reduce unemployment in Egypt

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-24 22:56:59|Editor: yan
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CAIRO, May 24 (Xinhua) -- Implementation of projects under the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China will help reduce the unemployment rate in Egypt, local experts have said.

"Projects to be implemented under the Belt and Road Initiative will contribute to solving the problem of unemployment in Egypt," Dr. Yasser Jadallah, director of the Center for Chinese Studies at Helwan University, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Certainly the Belt and Road Initiative will provide jobs for the young people, as well as services and infrastructure, which is undeniable, he said.

The Belt and Road Initiative, first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with the aim to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.

Jadallah said that Egypt's young people face problems in education and health, among others, and "they need to accept modest job opportunities to improve their conditions for a while."

The projects brought by the Belt and Road Initiative will reduce the unemployment rate by two to three percent in Egypt, he said.

The unemployment rate in the most populous Arab country dropped to 12 percent in the first quarter of 2017 in comparison with 12.7 percent in the same period last year and 12.4 percent in the last quarter of 2016, according the official statistics.

The government said the country's labor force was estimated in the first quarter of 2017 at 29.149 million, up by 79,000 since the fourth quarter of 2016.

The country's economy has been struggling to recover after experiencing a recession due to political turmoil that led to the ouster of two presidents since 2011.

Since the revolution toppled former president Hosni Mubarak six years ago, Egypt has seen a sharp decline in tourism revenue and foreign investment, due to political instability and security concerns.

The Egyptian government has been implementing a set of economic reforms since 2014 to lower budget deficits, including floating the local currency, cutting energy subsidies and putting in place a Value-Added Tax.

Jadallah said unemployment is a national problem in Egypt that can be solved by implementing government projects, however, it is difficult for the government to launch the projects due to a lack of budget.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mustafa Ibrahim, an expert on Chinese affairs, said the Belt and Road Initiative will provide opportunities for the young people in Egypt.

"The projects of the initiative are multiple, which will create jobs different from the existing ones, such as jobs needed by the service sector," he said.

Many Egyptian youths have stopped looking for jobs and are considering migrating to other countries due to the high unemployment rate, he added. However, the government is taking measures to reverse this trend.

"The government has taken good steps to provide employment opportunities for the young people, especially as it allocated 200 billion Egyptian pounds (11 billion U.S. dollars) for small and medium projects," he said.

However, Ibrahim criticized the bureaucracy that is blocking these projects, and called on the government to speed up the procedures for the plans.

On Tuesday, Governor of the Egyptian Central Bank Tarek Amer launched a new initiative to stimulate microfinance for small- and medium-sized enterprises, with the aim of improving the living standards of citizens.

The initiative is expected to reach 10 million people, with a volume of 30 billion Egyptian pounds (1.7 billion dollars) over four years.