Strengthening Egypt-EU economic ties

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 29 Jun 2024

The Egypt-EU Investment Conference signals the beginning of a new economic partnership between Egypt and the European Union.

Archival photo of Von der Leyen and Al-Sisi presenting signed declarations after their summit with t
Archival photo of Von der Leyen and Al-Sisi presenting signed declarations after their summit with the leaders of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy, in Cairo on 17 March

 

An investment conference, co-organised by Egypt and the European Union (EU) and scheduled for 29-30 June, is expected to attract more than 1,000 participants, including heads of EU states, EU commissioners, Egyptian and European ministers, senior officials from development partners and the CEOs of major companies.

Held under the patronage of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen, the conference schedule includes panel discussions and breakout sessions exploring sector-specific investment opportunities, including renewable energy, manufacturing (pharmaceutical, medical and automotive sectors), agriculture/food and water security and digitalisation.

The event will provide an opportunity for high-ranking officials from Egypt, the EU and international financial institutions to explore Egypt’s potential as an investment hub.

To prepare for the conference, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli chaired meetings with cabinet ministers, private sector representatives, and other concerned authorities to listen to their views and review the agreements and memorandums of understanding that will be signed between Egyptian and European authorities and investors.

“We want this conference to be a success in terms of fostering our economic partnership with the EU and reflecting Egypt’s skills in organising international events,” said Madbouli.

According to cabinet spokesperson Mohamed Al-Homosani, the conference conveys a message of confidence in Egypt’s fiscal reform measures, especially the liberalisation of the exchange rate and the elimination of the parallel market, and their impact on stabilising the Egyptian economy.

“These reforms have prompted international rating institutions to revise their outlook for the Egyptian economy from negative to stable and even to positive,” said Al-Homosani.

A joint Egypt-EU press statement said the conference will highlight strategic reforms being implemented by Egypt to strengthen its resilience to external shocks, attract foreign investment and create an enabling environment for the private sector.

During the conference, investment opportunities, including government tender programmes, will be presented to investors.

The strategic comprehensive partnership agreement Egypt and the EU reached in March aims, says Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, to promote dialogue between Egypt and the European Union and support economic reforms in Egypt. Under the agreement the EU will guarantee Egypt 5 billion euros in loans until 2027, 1.8 billion euros in investments and 600 million euros worth of grants.

A statement released by the State Information Service said the conference will focus on ways to strengthen economic cooperation between Egypt and EU member states and review infrastructure development opportunities in areas such as transportation, energy, and technology projects. There will be a focus on the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in creating job opportunities, and discussions will also cover sustainable development and environmental conservation and opportunities for cooperation in the cultural and educational fields.

Christian Berger, the EU’s ambassador to Egypt, described the conference as a watershed event in relations between Egypt and the EU.

“Economic development is of paramount importance to the EU and we hope the conference will create many frameworks for economic cooperation, political visions and common agendas, the most important of which are peace, security, and energy security on both sides of the Mediterranean, as well as combating illegal migration, crime and cross-border terrorism,” said Berger.

MP and head of the National Dialogue’s Investment Committee Ayman Mehasseb told Al-Ahram Weekly that he is optimistic the two-day conference will lead to concrete results on the ground.

“We do not want this conference to be a propaganda event without real results. We want its agreements and memorandums of understanding to be translated into projects and investments that strengthen the resilience of the Egyptian economy,” said Mehasseb.

Pointing out that the EU is the second largest investor in Egypt after Arab Gulf countries, Mehassab added that increased EU investment could double Egypt’s exports in the long run, improve its foreign exchange situation and help absorb the negative shocks of regional wars and other crises.

Figures released by the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) show that trade exchange between Egypt and the EU reached $31.2 billion in 2023, down from $31.8 billion in 2022. CAPMAS valued EU exports to Egypt at $19.4 billion, and Egyptian exports to the EU at $11.8 billion.

EU investments in Egypt reached a record $8.2 billion in FY 2022-23, up from $3.2 billion in FY 2021-22.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 27 June, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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