The fifth annual “Egypt, Trade and Export Finance” conference was held yesterday in Cairo.
Trade experts, bankers and businessmen convened to discuss export and trade opportunities for Egypt, in the context of the ongoing dialogue on the country’s economy.
Optimism was driven by positive factors favouring the Egyptian economy which make it able to regain investors’ confidence.
“Egypt is a strategic destination for making business,” said an HSBC executive. He expressed his optimism about Egypt and added it is “a fast growing nation.”
The chairman of ASEAN- Egypt Business association, Karim Helal, adopted a more conservative tone, saying Egypt is not the only investment destination available and has several competitors including Turkey, Brazil and Morocco. “We have to be highly competitive and to stop singing our own praise,” said Helal.
The answer according to Helal is to focus on our advantages and to address investors’ needs, with political stability at the top of the list.
The finance director at Misr October, Ramy Salah, shared the same views about uncertainty and the need for political stability, saying a “wait and see” attitude has prevailed among investors since the revolution. However, the situation is slightly better after presidential elections. “Having a president is better than having nothing,” he said.
The treasury manager of El-Sewedy Electro- Meter Egypt, Hazem Sherif, asserted that what is happening in Egypt is not far removed from what happened in some African countries who suffered political instability.
Nevertheless, Africa was now considered as a promising market by the representative of African Export-Import Bank, Kudakwashe Matereke. He said that with the Eurozone facing challenges and North African Countries suffering instability, Egypt is moving towards Africa.
There are many opportunities according to him, especially in the fields of telecommunications, transportation and medical supply. He added that returns on investment are bigger in Africa than in other zones and that Egypt has a special interest in Africa, being part of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (Africa) (COMESSA).
The Africa regional head of ING, Peter Grevendonk, offered his views, saying Africa is a continent that is enjoying quantitative growth and has huge opportunities.
The country commercial manager of DHL Express Egypt, Ahmed El-Zahwi, supported the views of previous speakers, saying the government is investing heavily in Africa and is currently considering reviving the land road to Sudan. These actions, according to him, are facilitated by trade agreements like COMESSA. In transportation there is “a growth in Africa’s lane and decline in Europe’s lane,” he said.