INTERVIEW: “Egypt is strategic market for BAT”: Area director

Doaa A.Moneim , Sunday 14 Nov 2021

The British American Tobacco company (BAT) is in discussions with Egypt to obtain a license to manufacture tobacco and related products for the Egyptian market, according to BAT’s Area Director for Turkey, Caucuses & North Africa Gokhan Bilgic. During his visit to Egypt last week, Ahram Online interviewed Bilgic to discuss updates on the licensing process, the main results of his visit and the company's future plans in the Egyptian market.

BAT

Ahram Online: What are the key purposes of your current visit to Egypt?

Gokhan Bilgic: We believe in Egypt as a strategic market and one of the most attractive markets for BAT, with a positive and favorable economic outlook. During the visit, we held number of fruitful meetings with the government members and partners in Egypt to discuss important topics and strategies of BAT’s business in the Egyptian market.

AO: What are the main results of your visit?

GB: We are happy with the results we achieved during our visit to Egypt, so far. We discussed all the topics we came for with deputy minister of finance, Eastern Company and our partners in Egypt. We have discussed our future plans and investments in the Egyptian market.

AO: What about your current investment and its volume in Egypt?

GB: BAT launched its operations in the Egyptian market in 2001, and we have been investing since then. There has been more than GBP 20 million (about EGP 422 million) in the Egyptian market behind GLO in 2021, the first official heated tobacco product (HTP) in the Egyptian market, during the first quarter of 2021 which created more than 1000 new job opportunities. In addition, by fully regulating the E-liquid and lifting the ban by the Ministry of Health, we will be launching our E-liquid product VUSE in the Egyptian market in 2022 and we are willing to invest a lot behind our new launch.

For that, we would like to thank the Ministry of Health in Egypt for adding the alternatives for traditional cigarette products, THP and E-liquid, under the tobacco law and for releasing the text-health-warnings for both products.

By fully regulating the product and lifting the ban, we would like to announce that we will be launching our E-liquid product VUSE in the Egyptian market in 2022 and we are willing to invest a lot behind this new launch.

We are also working on enhancing our portfolio and looking at opportunities to give the Egyptian consumer access to an international brand at a low price point. This is now under discussion with the relevant government officials .

AO: What are your future plans for the Egyptian market regarding investment and operating in Egypt?

GB: We are intending to increase our investments in the Egyptian market, mainly in the new products after we launched our HTP, Glo. We also intend to launch our E-liquid product VUSE in the Egyptian market in 2022 as we are willing to invest a lot behind our new launch.

AO: Could you clarify the key features of BAT cooperation with Egypt’s Eastern Company in the current time, kindly clarify its main features? Is there any future plans for new cooperation?

GB: Our strong and long-standing strategic partnership with Eastern Company paved the way for us to win the confidence of Egyptian consumers in a highly competitive market. We consider our partnership with Eastern Company a great example of how the public and private sectors can cooperate in a way that benefits the country, the consumers, and the industry as a whole.

Our partnership over the years has resulted in providing consumers with high quality products that are manufactured in Eastern Company manufacturing facilities in Egypt. We have cooperation agreements for Viceroy and Pall Mall, in addition to our manufacturing agreement for Rothmans, Kent and Lucky strike.

AO: Is there any updated on the new manufacturing license?

GB: We support the liberalization of the market and the launch of multiple new licenses. Tobacco companies, including BAT, believe that next generation products (NGPs) should be separate from the factory-made cigarettes (FMC). We are pretty sure that the revenue will increase for the government in case of multiple licenses issuance based on USD/mil. Multiple licenses issuance based on USD/mil ensures equal opportunities to all market players . Tobacco companies have shared their concerns and recommendations with the industrial development authorities in Egypt as well as the prime minister and we are awaiting their feedback.

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