CAIRO: A seminar on Egypt’s investment climate and investment opportunities is to be held today in South Korea courtesy of the Egyptian Embassy and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) at the Grand Hyatt in Seoul.
The seminar is the first initiative to take place under the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the General Authority for Investments and Free Zones (GAFI) in Egypt, and KOTRA, a non-profit organization whose primary functions include facilitating international trade, promoting foreign investments and bolstering trade investment infrastructure.
A team of Egyptian delegates from Cairo, headed by Mahmoud Attalla, vice chairman of GAFI, and including Dr. Sherif El Gabaly, chairman of the Egypt-Korea Business Council and a number of prominent businessmen and government representatives were slated to participate in the seminar, where they were to promote opportunities for investment in Egypt by shedding light on investment opportunities found in a number of sectors, namely communication and information technology, gas and petrochemicals, textiles, tourism, automobiles, construction and transportation.
The delegates were also to take the opportunity to present the development and growth in the investment climate in Egypt as a result of a new set of government policies, investment laws and guarantees that have been introduced with the purpose of fortifying and revitalizing the investment environment in Egypt.
Following last month’s visit of the South Korean president, the first visit made by a Korean head of state to Egypt, Egyptian and Korean business relations have entered their fastest period of growth.
Trade agreements and business associations between the two countries, albeit considerable to begin with, were cemented by the visit, during which both presidents discussed the importance of bilateral relations and pledged to boost current relations, trade agreements and business dealings between the two countries.
Last year, the volume of trade between the two countries amounted to around $850 million, according to official figures. However, that figure is mainly due to South Korean exports, worth $700 million, while in comparison, Egyptian exports to the country last year amounted to a paltry sum of $150 million.
By boosting trade relations and promoting investment opportunities available in the country, Egypt hopes to gain a bigger share of the market, as South Korean investments in Egypt could reach an estimated $178 million in fields vital to the national economy, such as iron, steel, automotives, building and construction, information and communication technology (ICT), electronics, and banking services, according to Amr Helmy, Egypt’s former ambassador to Seoul.
Egypt is an attractive market for many Korean products, such as LG televisions, Samsung mobile phones and Hyundai cars. Yet, while Egyptian products, such as marble, granite, cotton, oil, and some processed foods such as biscuits are being exported, Korean consumers are still unfamiliar with Egyptian products, which explains why Korean exports account for the bigger chunk of export-import figures between the two countries.
“I believe that Korean business circles should pay more attention to using Egypt s potentials. Egypt has a big population base, a well-educated work force, a prime location connecting Europe and Asia and Africa and it is the focus of the Arab and Islamic world, Ambassador of South Korea in Egypt Seung-hoh Choi said last month in EBA Magazine. “I believe that industries such as tourism, textiles (including spinning and weaving), petrochemicals, natural gas, construction and food processing industries are potential areas (in order to attract more Korean investment and companies). I believe that Korean electronics companies are (also) interested in investment in order to make inroads into Arab and African markets.
Dr. Sherif El-Gabaly shares the Korean ambassador’s views. According to statements made by El-Gabaly to EBA Magazine, there are many fields of common cooperation between the two countries, especially in IT and communication, construction, petrochemicals and energy.
Korea is considered to be very advanced in these markets, yet Egypt has the potential and manpower to provide the raw materials and workforce Korea lacks for further growth, according to El-Gabaly.
On the energy front, El-Gabaly said that Egypt enjoys the great advantage of possessing raw materials, such as oil and natural gas, which could attract Korean investments at competitive prices.
The council has stated that it is working to increase the commercial exchange between the two countries from $600 million to $1 billion in the coming three years. The council is also working on increasing Egyptian exports to Korea.