China will move ahead of the US to become Egypt's largest individual trading partner within eight years, Rachid Mohamed Rachid, the Middle East country's minister of trade and industry said in Beijing Wednesday. Rachid stressed that China – which racked up trade with Egypt worth US$2 billion in 2005 – is not merely a source of consumer goods but was becoming a key provider of investment and technology, the Financial Times reported. During his visit, Rachid is expected to oversee the signing of US$2 billion in deals between Egyptian and Chinese companies. The two countries have also agreed to set up a US$500 million Chinese industrial zone in Egypt for joint investment in textiles, footwear and pharmaceuticals. Rachid, who in February criticized the US for halting trade talks in response to fraud and violence in Egypt's parliamentary elections, observed that Beijing put economic opportunity first. "That makes it easier to do business with China," he said.