Shouldn't it invest in itself first? Lebanon 'key' investor in Egypt

Published February 16th, 2015 - 04:35 GMT
Al Bawaba
Al Bawaba

It has been one of the key foreign investors in the Egyptian economy over the past few years, ministers and officials said Friday.

“Lebanon ranked 15 among 152 countries that made investments in Egypt and if we add the investments from Lebanese companies abroad then Lebanon would rank seventh,” Egypt’s Industry, Commerce and SMEs Minister Munir Fakhri Abdul-Nour told the Lebanese-Egyptian Business Forum, which was held at the Phoenicia Hotel.

He added that these investments were made over a 10-year period.

The minister did not specify the nature of the projects undertaken by Lebanese in Egypt.

Leading banks like BLOM and Audi have had a major presence in Egypt since the country opened its market to foreign banks over 10 years ago.

Economy Minister Alain Hakim said total Lebanese investments in Egypt come to around $3.7 billion.

“Lebanon is ranked the 15th country in terms of foreign investment in Egypt with total investments of $3.7 billion in the fields of banking, tourism and construction,” Hakim told the participants.

He added that there was great potential for higher trade between the two countries although the volume of trade between Lebanon and Egypt fell by 14 percent in 2014 compared to 2013.

“Lebanese investors and businessmen from Lebanon and Egypt need to hold more meetings and this forum is a good place to exchange ideas. The political stability in Lebanon and Egypt is also essential to encourage foreign investment,” Hakim argued.

But the participants did not shed any light on the size of Egyptian investments in Lebanon.

Egypt’s Investments Minister Ashraf Salman, who thanked Al Iktissad wal Amal magazine for organizing the event, said there are 1,239 Lebanese companies with a total capital of $1.1 billion in Egypt.

Salman talked at length about the reforms carried out by Egypt’s government since the election of Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as president.

He added that the government planned to increase GDP growth to exceed 7 percent in 2018-19.

The minister said the government intended to invite foreign companies to invest in the promising energy sector in the near future.

Mohamed Choucair, the president of Beirut Chamber of Commerce and Industry, praised the wise policy of the Egyptian president and the solidarity of the Egyptian people which contributed to encouraging foreign firms to invest in the country.

He noted that the balance of trade between Lebanon and Egypt in 2013 reached $718 million but fell to $613 million in 2014.

“Despite the problems it is passing through, Lebanon is still the pulsing economic heart of the region. We are waiting for a major step in Lebanon such as the oil and gas exploration and the start of joint agreements between the public and private sector for the construction of major infrastructure in the country,” Choucair said.

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