Egypt hosting the annual regional conference of WAIPA
CAIRO: Egypt, an elected member of the executive committee of the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) and the current regional chair of the African group, and re-elected for its second term, was unanimously voted by the members of the executive committee to organize the 2006 regional conference.
The association has held a main annual conference in Geneva since its establishment. Starting last year, the association has begun to hold an additional regional conference each year on a different continent. Egypt filed an official presentation to host the annual regional conference during the executive committee meeting in May 2006. The main competitor for this year’s African-held conference was South Africa, which later withdrew its presentation.
The conference is one of the most important events for investment promotion agencies. This year’s conference theme is how to build a foundation for investment promotion; its aim is to exchange methods of investment promotion used internationally. The conference will also hold workshops on specific subjects including investors’ services, one-stop shop system and advertising for investment.
The conference will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh from November 16-18. “It’s estimated around 300 people will attend the conference, says Dr. Ziad Bahaa Al-Din, chairman of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones.
A number of meetings will be held in conjunction with the main conference, the most important of which is an invitation to establish a gathering for Arab investment promotion agencies. Arab investment agencies exist, but have no umbrella organization to organize their work. The main aim is to build cooperation by exchanging experience and workers’ expertise and cooperation to change the image of investment in the region, a common challenge for Arab countries. To avoid bureaucracy, a gathering has been suggested rather than an organization.
“Egypt was a member in the WAIPA since it was established in 1995. Egypt gained from this membership; we learned and still are from others’ experiences in workshops that the WAIPA organizes, says Bahaa Al-Din.
The General Authority for Investment and Free Zones has also recently amended some regulations related to investment. Among the new rules were new regulations for companies’ voluntary departure from the market.
Where in the past partners had to pay off all debts to individuals and the government before they were able to close down a company, the new regulation simply demands that a report be filed by one of the partners, making an individual responsible for paying off the debts. That person would file a report on all debts and a plan for paying them off.
New regulations also cover expansion in cases when companies have higher demands than they can meet, with a stipulation that acquiring other companies not be used to attain unearned tax advantages.
Lawyers’ syndicate fees for investment services were lowered by 50 percent, to make it easier and faster for lawyers to establish companies for their clients.
As a result of the new regulations, it now takes less time, an estimated five days, to change regulations concerning the main systems in companies.
The agency is now studying ways to regulate currently unregulated activity. If the regulation passes, specialized companies would be able to buy debts from creditors at a discount, leaving the debtor with more liquidity to start producing again without having to wait for their debtors to pay in the future. These companies will leave the market in general with more liquidity.