International political and economic communities have expressed great confidence in the reform drive in Egypt, as could be tangibly felt in the many meetings President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi attended on the sidelines of the inaugural ceremony of the 74th UN General Assembly. Al-Sisi had 18 bilateral summits with world leaders in New York, including 10 with European heads of state and three with permanent Security Council members (the US, the UK and France), in which he explained Egypt’s outlooks and exchanged views on a range of regional and international issues.
In his meetings with the Council of Chambers of Commerce in Washington and the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), the CEOs of major US firms lauded the remarkable growth in the Egyptian economy thanks to the measures that the Egyptian government has taken to accelerate the development process. They praised, in particular, the many mega projects that the government has launched and that have advanced Egypt as an important partner in international development efforts. Prominent members of the US business community also attached great value to the part that Al-Sisi has played in promoting security and development in Egypt and stressed that stability in Egypt is a fulcrum for stability in the Middle East as a whole.
Businessmen in the US warmly welcomed the new investment climate in Egypt. “In the past, we’d come here to complain about the challenges that had to be dealt with in order to do business and invest in Egypt. Today, we come here to relate success stories and speak of the positive developments in Egypt,” said one businessman. Al-Sisi, during the meetings, explained that the economic reform programme that Egypt is implementing in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund was specifically tailored to meet Egypt’s national demands and that the positive results the programme has achieved so far have exceeded all expectations. This, he stressed, was the product not just of the government’s political will or the efficacy of the programme itself, but of the “power of the will of the Egyptian people”. He added that Egypt will continue in its course of comprehensive reform in order to realise sustainable development and improve standards of living and quality of life for the Egyptian people.
The qualitative inroads that Egypt has made in all developmental sectors reflect national determination, at both the governmental and grassroots levels, to achieve sustainable development and the goals of the Vision 2030 strategy, entering into key partnerships that promise excellent investment opportunities. This, in turn, will reap positive impacts on Egypt’s bilateral relations, with the US above all, and open the doors to increased US investment in various sectors of the Egyptian economy and to new markets for US products.
The warm and encouraging remarks by the CEOs of major US firms on the Egyptian government’s transparency with the private sector, the legislative reforms it has sponsored and its sound fiscal management, are the most salient takeaways from the president’s meetings in New York. Moreover, this positive feedback has already been translated into promises of hundreds of millions of dollars of investment into projects by major firms currently operating Egypt or that are looking forward to entering the Egyptian market. US business sectors are also aware that Egypt is poised to become a gateway to investment and trade in Africa, an aim that has been a priority for the Egyptian government for many years, especially in the IT and digital sectors.
At the same time, the Egyptian leadership delivered a powerful message through the reassurances it provided in its many meetings with politicians and businessmen in New York that Egypt is pressing forward in fighting a war against terrorism and working to disseminate security across the country and in the Middle East as a whole. This message tells the international community that the Egyptian government is fully focused on achieving development and prosperity for the Egyptian people and that it will pursue all possible avenues towards this end despite adverse circumstances in the region. This message is backed by the positive results that the government’s policies have already achieved, as is borne out by economic indicators showing rising growth rates, declining unemployment and inflation rates, and a steadily strengthening local currency.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.