Boycott campaigns in Egypt: Effective weapon or friendly fire?

Muhammed Khalid , Friday 3 Nov 2023

Amid a huge campaign to boycott foreign brands that support Israel, the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC) issued a statement on Thursday calling for people to suspend the campaign, arguing that it is affecting Egyptian businesses.

A McDonald s branch in Cairo.
A McDonald s branch in Cairo.


FEDCOC said that the blacklisted brands operate in Egypt under the franchising system and therefore parent companies will not be affected by the boycott campaign.

The federation highlighted that, while it stands with Gaza, it would clarify that the boycotted brands are supplied by Egyptian companies that employ thousands of Egyptians and pay taxes to the state's treasury.

Egypt accounts for less than one percent of the business volume of the blacklisted brands, while Egyptian franchises make up no more than five percent of their revenue, FEDCOC explained.

The recent boycotting campaign could be the biggest and most impactful in years. Thousands of Egyptians supported the campaign on different social media platforms, while many shared lists of Egyptian brands that should be supported.

For instance, Spiro Spathis, an Egyptian soda brand that dates back to 1920, was invigorated by the campaign. The company's sales soared 350 percent in a brief period, urging the company to post thousands of jobs to keep pace with the soaring demand. The company announced that it has received 15,000 resumes so far.

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), a Palestinian-led movement calling for boycotting Israel's brands and brands that support Israel, has published lists of companies to be blacklisted in all sectors.  

"Many international companies are interconnected and have common interests that are partners in the war on Palestine, and their interests intersect with the cancerous Zionist entity, which is, of course, an advanced military base located in the centre of our country. Some of these companies are linked to the Israeli economy to varying degrees," BDS Egypt posted on X, formerly Twitter, last week.

On the economic front, boycotted brands like Starbucks, McDonald's, and Netflix seem to have absorbed any negative impact. The stocks of the three companies ended on Thursday at 11.42 percent, 3.42 percent, and 30.31 percent higher than a month before, respectively.

Among the attention-grabbing aspects of the recent boycott campaign in Egypt is the wide participation of 'Generation Z', often criticized as apathetic to national causes, let alone the Palestinian cause.

In reality, they showed burning enthusiasm to participate both in demonstrations against the war on Gaza and the boycott campaign.

"It won't really free Palestine. I totally get your point, but like, we can at least show some support instead of just chilling at home while they're going through all this. It's pretty messed up, but these so-called Egyptian companies shell out a lot of money to the parent company for branding rights," said 18-year-old Tamer Farouk to Ahram Online.

"It's the same deal pretty much everywhere, so, like, boycotting their stuff is kind of important. You can find alternatives; Egyptian alternatives. At least we can get our voice heard", Farouk added as he stood to buy a burger and fries from a local restaurant in Maadi.

The war on Gaza has resulted in 9,000 Palestinians killed by Israel, which has dropped 10,000 bombs on the strip since the beginning of its aggression.

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