Egypt's Best Bank for Asia 2019
When lenders target the Chinese market, usually their first port of call is either Beijing or Shanghai. Not so Banque Misr, whose chairman Mohamed El-Etreby joined in 2011 after nearly 30 years in the commercial banking sector.
When the Egyptian financial institution opened its inaugural representative office in April 2017, it set up shop not in China’s political capital or its main financial hub, but in Guangzhou, a trading city on the Pearl River just a few miles north of Hong Kong. While its decision raised eyebrows, the logic was impeccable. The majority of Egyptian exports enter China via the enormous ports at Guangzhou and nearby Shenzhen, while the nation’s big corporates and commodities traders are regular attendees at the many local expos and trade fairs, including the biannual Canton Fair.
The flag carrier EgyptAir flies to three Chinese cities, including Guangzhou and Hong Kong, offering additional logistical links between Cairo and southern China. Moreover, Egypt was one of the first Mena-area markets to buy into China’s Belt and Road Initiative, due in large part to the Suez Canal, a key pinch-point on the Maritime Silk Road.
Banque Misr has participated in many BRI-related events. It sponsored the first round of the Belt and Road Industrial and Commercial Conference, and attended the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, held in Beijing in September 2018.
While the versatile lender is integral to two-way trade between the countries, its focus in Asia is not limited to a single market. It provides credit facilities to Egyptian companies ranging from steel and chemicals producers to pharmaceuticals and textile makers, in countries including Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and South Korea.