Nova Scotia

Egyptian ambassador hopeful about shipping partnership with Sydney port

A memorandum of understanding between the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and Egypt will help cement the Port of Sydney's role in Suez Canal shipping, Egypt's ambassador to Canada said Wednesday during a trip to Sydney.

'Let me say that the potential that this MOU provides is huge,' says Egyptian ambassador Motaz Zahran

Egypt's ambassador to Canada was in Cape Breton this week to promote business and education links between the island and his country.

Motaz Zahran toured Sydney Harbour on Wednesday with Cecil Clarke, the mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, who pitched for Egypt to consider Sydney's port as traffic increases in the newly-expanded Suez Canal.

Zahran also made a stop at Cape Breton University, which has a small campus at the University of Cairo.

The ambassador told reporters in Sydney that a memorandum of understanding has been negotiated between Egypt and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality for potential shipping business.

"It's a matter of formalities" before it's signed, he said.

"Basically, it's training. It is provision of facilities, both here and in the Suez. It is the exchange of information on the development of the port here, and there," said Zahran.

Suez Canal Zone

Egypt's Suez Canal is developing the Suez Canal Zone, Zahran said. It will be a logistical hub for maritime traffic.

In May, a Montreal-based real estate developer, the Canderel Group, announced plans to create a logistics park in Sydney.

Zahran said the memorandum of understanding sets the groundwork for "a much more integrated approach" between Sydney's port and Egypt's Suez Canal.

Motaz Zahran, Egypt's ambassador to Canada, made a trip this week to Cape Breton to promote business and education links between the island and his country. (CBC)

'The potential is huge'

Zahran said his presence in Sydney is an indication of how serious Egypt is about establishing partnerships with ports in the North Atlantic.

"Let me say that the potential that this MOU provides is huge," said the ambassador.

"If you look at the maritime traffic around the world, and you see that over 75 per cent of the maritime traffic goes through the Suez Canal, you will understand where that potential would come from."

Egypt has already signed an MOU with the Port of Halifax, he said.

"What we're looking at is an expansion of our partnerships, and Sydney is definitely the one that will be coming soon."

Port traffic will increase

Clarke said the visit indicates how serious the Port of Sydney is being viewed. 

"The people that will be spending the money from the Suez Authority itself will be coming next, we anticipate in July," he said.

Clarke called the ambassador's visit satisfying.

"How can you not be happy, when you've put so much time in and tried to explain to people here in your community about how Sydney fits into the wider world?" he said.

"To have the wider world recognize Cape Breton and the Port of Sydney shows the confidence that is being built."

With files from Gary Mansfield