Egypt has become attractive destination for FDI: US ambassador to Cairo

Doaa A.Moneim , Tuesday 28 Jan 2020

US ambassador to Cairo Jonathan Cohen at the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) monthly luncheon meeting on Tuesday (Photo: Ahram Online)

Egypt has become more attractive for foreign direct investment and has the potential to attract more investments, Jonathan Cohen, US ambassador to Egypt said on Tuesday.

He said that Egypt has attractive incentives, including its labour force, transportation networks, solid infrastructure, and advancements in communications, making it qualified to receive more FDI.

Cohen was speaking on the sidelines of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) monthly luncheon meeting held at the Conrad Hotel.

Egypt has the potential to become a regional energy hub, he added, as it has made notable achievements in the oil and gas sector over the past seven years, which has transformed it from a gas importer to a gas exporter.

On Africa, Cohen asserted that Egypt has a key role to play on the continent to attract more investment to the African market.

Cohen said that Egypt is a dynamic country with a complex economy and unique regional challenges, adding that he is working on dealing with these challenges, especially those faced by American companies, which benefits both sides.

“I will be working tirelessly to create and expand business opportunities between the US and Egypt, and working with the Egyptian government to build an environment that attracts US investment and in which a strong private sector can generate jobs and deliver the economic growth that Egypt needs,” he said.

He added that the US and Egypt have a great base to build on for more commercial engagement in in the coming years.

Egypt is the fourth-largest export market for US goods and services in the Middle East and North Africa, he said, and the largest market for US goods and services in Africa.

From 2017 to the November 2019, the total US-Egyptian bilateral trade grew by over 44 percent to $8.2 billion, while US exports to Egypt amounted to $5.2 billion, up 76 percent in two years.

US food and agricultural exports to Egypt grew by 145 percent from 2017 to 2018, while Egyptian agricultural exports to US reached a record-high two years in row in 2018 and in 2019, Cohen said.

The US government has invested over $80 billion in Egypt over the past 40 years, he said.

Speaking about military and security issues, Cohen said that US assistance to Egypt in this regard remains a lasting testament to the historic peace treaty between the counties and totals over $50 billion since it was signed in 1979.

Cohen also touched on Egypt’s energy sector, saying that it is not a promising sector in Egypt alone but across the whole eastern Mediterranean region, which has encouraged a number of US companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron to enter the market.

Cohen said American investors are looking for clearer, more efficient regulatory structures, a streamlined and customer-focused bureaucracy, and stronger protections for intellectual property. The US embassy is working with the Egyptian National Competitiveness Council to deal with these challenges, he noted.

“Businesses also seek and are willing to partner to develop a more educated workforces with the technical skills needed to establish 21st century factories and production lines. They are also looking for a more open society that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship across all sectors,” Cohen added.

He said that US commercial, economic, and agricultural officials are advocating daily with Egypt’s government to reduce or remove specific barriers and improve the entire business environment.  

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