Natco signed an agreement with Germany’s Mercedes-Benzin 1996 to set up an assembly plant in 6 October City, with total investment of some $30 million. The plant has an annual capacity of 2,500 cars (MEED 12:4:96).

The Chinese deal comes at a time when the government is heavily promoting the cause of increasing exports. A new export law was passed by the People’s Assembly in June. Local exporters have also been helped by the devaluation of the Egyptian pound, analysts say.

Foreign Trade Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali said at the signing that China’s imports of cars are expected to rise to 5 million by 2005 from 750,000 at present, and that the Egyptian government is seeking to gain a small portion of that market.

Most of the other car assembly plants in Egypt are oriented mainly towards the domestic market.