French companies interested in Egypt, undeterred by attacks: Business delegation

Ahram Online , Tuesday 16 Jun 2015

The head of the French delegation expressed faith in President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for having a his 'leadership and clear direction'

Patrick Lucas
Patrick Lucas, Head of the Delegation and Chairman of insurance broker Gras Savoye (Photo: Gras Savoye official website)

French companies are showing a growing interest in investing in Egypt in spite of security issues, the head of a French business delegation told Ahram Online in Cairo on Tuesday.

"There is clear leadership and direction" evident in the government of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi which has triggered optimism among investors, said Patrick Lucas, Head of the Delegation and Chairman of insurance broker Gras Savoye.

Lucas heads a delegation of some thirty French firms, half of which already have investments in the country, according to Lucas.

There are some 150 French companies currently operating in Egypt, pointed out France's Ambassador to Egypt Andre Parant, namely Total and GDF in the oil and gas sector, retail giant Carrefour and L'Oreal, among others.

French investments in Egypt reached $6.7 billion in December 2014, announced International Cooperation Minister Naglaa El-Ahwani at the time.

"Security is not a matter that troubles French [investors] for the moment," Lucas told Ahram Online when asked about possible concerns regarding Egypt's security situation following a string of attempted attacks on foreigners in Egypt in past weeks, pointing out that none of the representatives have backed out of the visit.

"All you need is a leader who accelerates reform, assures wealth distribution to improve purchasing power and reduce zones of poverty, and work on awareness, and intelligently make use of resources that neighbouring countries are willing to grant or lend," he explained.

Egypt has been showered with billions of dollars in financial assistance from its oil-rich Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 which has boosted foreign currency reserves and eased the strain on its budget.

The government has also embarked on macroeconomic reform, such as cutting oil subsidies, and amended laws to facilitate investment procedures.

French investors were particularly impressed with the success of a high-profile international economic conference Egypt held in Sharm El-Sheikh last March, in which it signed investment deals worth a total of $32 billion.

"I think there are new opportunities with the new economic policies being put in practice through a number of reforms...there are large projects, so the French companies are looking at this with a lot of interest," said France's Ambassador to Egypt Andre Parant.

"In the coming months we will witness a number of investment projects from French companies in Egypt," said Parant, citing the recent opening of a L'Oreal factory in Egypt, the first in the Middle East and North Africa.

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