President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi heads to France for his first visit as part of the ongoing efforts of the State to support the construction and development activities of Egypt.
President Al-Sisi’s discussions with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macaron, will focus on international issues, ways of combating terrorism worldwide, joint economic relations, and the implementation of more projects in parallel with the reform measures implemented to support investments.
In conjunction with the presidential visit, Daily News Egypt interviewed Fouad Younis, head of the Egypt-France Business Council, who will also be accompanying Al-Sisi in the visit.
Younis praised the reform measures taken by the state over the past months, explaining that development constraints and problems faced by French investors formerly included the scarcity of the dollar in the local market, the instability of the exchange rate, and the difficulty of profits repatriation, all of which have come to an end. “They also turned a corner, making positive points attracting investors,” Younis added.
He said that the decision to liberalise the exchange rate, which was accompanied by some volatility, eventually led to the stability of the exchange rate and the elimination of the currency trade in the black market, in addition to the new Investment Law, all of which have earned the confidence and admiration of French businesspersons, who have a strong motivation to inject more French investments into Egypt and expand existing investments.
He predicted a growth of French investments in Egypt by 10% in 2018, as the situation stabilises following the removal of the obstacles that faced French businesspersons in the past.
The volume of French investments in Egypt is about €5bn from 160 companies working in the sectors of industry, engineering, construction, infrastructure, telecommunication, banking, insurance, and tourism. These businesses provide some 30,000 jobs for Egyptians, according to the latest report of the French embassy in Egypt.
According to Younis, the president’s visit to France includes constructive government meetings that include the signing of joint agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoU) in the sectors of transport, infrastructure, and renewable energy with the possibility of obtaining a loan from the French side.
He highlighted a meeting between the Minister of Transportation in the visit’s first day with a number of businesspersons in the sector, as well as similar meetings for some of the ministers.
Younis also noted that the ministers of transportation, trade and industry, electricity, and investment and international cooperation will accompany the president, as well as the head of the Suez Canal Authority.
On the second day of the visit, which Younis refered to it as the “Economics Day”, President Al-Sisi will partake in a breakfast at the French Ministry of Finance. During the event, Al-Sisi will meet the heads of 30 companies that have existing investments in Egypt and companies that are considering investing.
The second day of the visit also witnesses the meeting of the Egyptian side of the business council accompanying the president with the new French members for the first time, in addition to bilateral meetings between companies and ministers in the presence of the president.
He added that the current period is the stage to attract investments, praising the policies pursued by Al-Sisi and the major national projects that hint to an impressive future, especially in light of the implementation of the cities of the fourth generation, including the New Administrative Capital, New El Alamein, New Mansoura, and East Port Said, which will provide more jobs and limit overpopulation in governorates.
On the current problems facing French investors, Younis said they have all come to an end, except for the customs.
The delay in the release of some letters is still one of the obstacles facing investors, while the recent economic measures, especially the flotation of the pound, the adoption of the new Investment Law, and the establishment of internal security all contribute to attract investors.
Younis pointed out that Al-Sisi’s visit to France will be followed by a delegation from the Mouvement des Entreprises de France (MEDEF) by mid-November to discuss and look into the projects related to sustainable development.
He predicted that the Egyptian president’s visit will have an impact on the return of French tourism to Egypt, opening up new industries and more cooperation in vocational and technical training.
In 2015, the former French President, Francois Hollande, came to Egypt to attend the opening ceremony of the new Suez Canal. In November of the same year, Al-Sisi visited France to attend the United Nations Climate Change Summit. Hollande met with Al-Sisi on the sidelines of the summit. There were also several ministerial visits between Egypt and France, including side visits to the heads of government from both sides.
Board members accompanying the Al-Sisi during his visit to France: 13 members of the Egypt-France Business Council, including Fouad Younes, the director of Fouad Mahmoud Younes and Associates Consulting Co.; Karim Refaat, chairperson and managing director of N Gage Consulting; Mohamed Halawa, managing director of Best Cheese for Food Products; Hamed Hassouna, regional chief director
of UBAF; and Ashraf El Gazayerli, chairperson of Mashreq for Business Development.
The list also includes Hamed Hassouna, the regional chief director of UBAF; Adel Danish, former chairperson and CEO of Smart Village; Mahmoud El Kaissy, chairperson of Medgenco International Trade Co.; and Abdel Halim Assem, adviser to the chairperson of Thales International Middle East.
Finally, this also includes Marie Louis Bishara, vice president of Bishara Group BTM; Mounir Makar, owner of Makar Financial Consultant; Ahmed Shawki, partner and executive director of Mazars Mostafa Shawki for accounting and auditing; and Elhamy El Zayat, managing director and CEO of Emeco Travel.