Egypt acts to attract more investors
The head of the General Authority for Investment in Egypt, Mohamed El-Ghamrawi, has announced that the government is considering a new financial and administrative package to attract more investors.
He told the daily Al Ahram newspaper that there are new investment projects in information technology and petrochemicals estimated at $2 billion.
He said Egyptians were working in cooperation with an international company to train a new generation of young businessmen. He added that the Suez Gulf Port would be inaugurated in two months with new opportunities for investment in the area.
El-Ghamrawi acknowledged there are financial problems hindering small projects. He said a proposal recommending the participation of the Industrial Development Bank, next to the Social Fund for Development, in financing these projects was now being floated. He also pointed out that this bank is financed through foreign aids and loans, as well as state funds.
El-Ghamrawi also called for placing new industrial zones under the supervision of a separate authority instead of the administrations of the governates that have proved inefficient. He said the General Authority for Investment supervises the free zones efficiently. The General Authority provides the land and together with electricity, water, sewerage, industrial security and medical insurance.
Referring to the situation of foreign investment in Egypt, El-Ghamrawi stated there are new projects in petrochemicals, information technology, micro-circuits, electricity and airports presented by American and international companies, as well as Saudi and British investors.
El-Ghamrawi said that a study is being conducted now to grant financial and administrative facilities for investors. He claimed that, compared with other countries in the region, Egypt has the least bureaucratic obstacles and the most favorable climate for investment. He added that the point is that each project must be crystallized completely on the financial and technical levels so as to ensure its success.
He told Al Ahram that a program is being prepared with the help of an international company to raise the awareness of young businessmen concerning the method of implementing small projects including the idea, the application, the feasibility study and marketing.
Meanwhile, Minister of Supply, Hassan Khedr, said his country couldn't stand isolated from the world "in view of the weight and status it enjoys on the regional and international levels."
"The Egyptian-European partnership is a kind of challenge to carry out the aspired development that would finally lead to more economic liberalization and to upgrading the competitiveness as well as the living patterns of the Egyptians," Khedr was quoted by the Egyptian press.
The Minister was speaking at a forum organized in Cairo by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce for tackling the qualifying program for Egyptian-European partnership. He said the European Union's member-states constituted a giant economic bloc from which Egypt could draw several privileges.
"These privileges can be optimized if an accelerated comprehensive program to modernize the Egyptian society with its layers and activities is drawn up," he added.
"The partnership is not confined only to trade, but covers many other activities, including services, social, security and political cooperation."
"The trade agreement with the EU marks a full package of frames to magnify economic, trade, cultural and political relations," Khedr said in a speech delivered on behalf of Prime Minister Atef Ebed.
"Under the agreement, Egyptian exports to Europe would be relieved of all customs tariffs; and with regard to Egyptian textile exports quota limits would be dropped," he said. In return, Egypt would drop taxes on European industrial imports over a transitional period of 16 years, divided into four interwoven stages.
In the first three-year stage raw materials and capital goods will be exempted. In the second four-year stage, starting from the fourth year of the program, food products will be spared tax. In the third seven-year stage, to start as of the sixth year of the program, manufactured commodities will be exempted. And the fourth 11-year stage will start as of the sixth year of the program.
Gamal Bayoumi, the Assistant Foreign Minister and Coordinator General of the Euro-Egyptian partnership agreement, said the accord will help realize an important target of Egypt's economic reform program.
Bayoumi explained that the accord would help liberalize trade, open up fresh markets to Egyptian exports, attract more investments and increase employment rates through a series of policies and agreements to be integrated during the coming decade.
Bayoumi said Egypt has relations with European countries via the 1977 trade cooperation agreement. He noted that the European Union is the largest market for Egyptian exports, accommodating some 46 per cent of Egypt's total exports. He also cited some $1 billion in European non-refundable grants, between 1997 and 1999, to beef up the Egyptian economy competitiveness. –(Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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