US Secretary of State John Kerry has reportedly requested that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi does not take steps to appropriate the wealth of Egyptian businessmen living abroad.
In comments leaked from meetings held between Kerry and Morsi, Kerry allegedly said that Egyptian businessmen living abroad possessed vast wealth and resources that could be used to help address Egypt’s economic problems. He asked Morsi not to appropriate their funds or raise taxes on their wealth if monetary transfers were made from foreign bank accounts to Egyptian accounts. He added that a number of Egyptian businessmen living abroad were afraid that their funds and assets could be used for political purposes.
US officials stated that Egypt’s economic problems can be traced back to the country’s widespread political divisions, adding that the administration fears an impending economic collapse and a protracted deterioration in security in Egypt.
During his trip to Cairo, Kerry stated the need for the country to carry out economic reform and secure Egypt’s pending IMF loan. This would include eliminating wasteful spending and cutting back on government subsidies, in addition to creating a positive economic environment for small businesses, as opposed to prioritising Egypt’s large-scale industrial sector. American officials added that small businesses operating in Egypt suffer from a lack of infrastructure and a shortage of available finance and liquidity.
Officials stated that they hoped the IMF loan would help put the country on the road to political and economic reform, and end the era of the elite enriching themselves at the expense of the poor and middle classes.
Officials added that President Morsi has done a good job in stabilising the situation in the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, saying that they hope he can continue to have a positive effect on Hamas. They went on to say that preventing Iranian arms from being smuggled through the Sahara desert would also be important to prevent weapons from entering Gaza and avoiding further conflict with Israel.
Although the general discourse in Egypt regarding Israel has been negative, particularly from within the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood, American officials were reported as saying that preserving stability within the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip was a shared interest of the two countries that could be used as a basis to preserve the peace treaty. Officials went on to add that they believe Morsi is committed to preserving the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.