An agreement between Russia and Egypt could see the construction of a Russian industrial zone on the Suez Canal commencing as early as next year.

A memorandum of understanding was signed by the two countries in February this year, following discussions on the project, dating back to 2014.

Russia’s trade minister, Denis Manturov, said Egypt had set aside a plot of 80 hectares in Port Said, with a view to expanding this to some 2,000 hectares for the free-trade zone.

According to the minister, the zone could provide close to 80,000 jobs. However, construction of the zone would require investment of around US$ 4.6 billion between now and 2035, all of which is set to come from Russia.

Egypt’s move to strengthen its relationship with Russia follows Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut crude oil supplies to its near neighbour, possibly as a result of Egypt’s decision to vote against a Saudi-backed UN resolution on Syria.

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