The Swiss-Egyptian Business Association (SEBA) is planning a textile roadshow to Switzerland to promote the textile sector in Egypt (garments and machinery) and to know the requirements of the Swiss market, SEBA‘s Executive Director, Marwa Taher, said.
“We believe that the Egyptian economy holds great potential for more investments and business expansion. In fact, Egypt is currently looked at as a gateway to the African market, as discussions have been already been opened to assess potential opportunities for Swiss investments in Africa, seen though their current presence in the Egyptian market,” Taher stated.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Taher to learn more about the updates of SEBA’s activities and its plans for 2020 in collaboration with the Egyptian and Swiss governments, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
What are the future events that SEBA is preparing right now? And your sectors of focus?
We are currently getting prepared for our Meet The Expert: Customs Single Window Seminar. This event will discuss in-depth everything regarding the new customs regulations, as well as assist members and attendees with all their questions and inquiries. We also plan for a textile roadshow to Switzerland to promote the textile sector in Egypt (garments and machinery) and to know the requirements of the Swiss market.
Can you please give us a brief about SEBA’s role and establishment?
Established in 2004, SEBA-The Swiss Egyptian Business Association-is a non-governmental organisation working under Law No 84 of the ministry of social affairs in 2002. With 15 years of experience in promoting bilateral trade and investments, SEBA was founded by a group of Swiss-Egyptian businessmen under the auspices of the embassy of Switzerland in Egypt. Our mission is to enhance and strengthen the industrial as well as commercial relations among the two states, and create new market opportunities.
Backgrounder: ‘SEBA focused on corporate social responsibility (CSR), vocational training, and employment activities through hosting related events in 2018, in collaboration with non-governmental organisations, Taher told DNE last year, adding that SEBA supports the Four Biscuits Initiative that aims to empower young people with Down Syndrome by providing them with training in baking skills and then selling their products at local markets and online.’
What about SEBA’s past activities in 2019?
With the support of our members we organised our yearly fundraising Business Awards event to nominate the top contributors among Swiss and Egyptian investors in education. The fund was dedicated to ADVANCE Society for the training programmes which support teachers of students with disabilities. We also organise monthly meetings, including the embassy of Switzerland and SEBA members, to tackle the issues that are of interest to our members. The outcome of these meetings helps us improve the services we provide to our members by focusing on their needs and requirements to sustain economic and business challenges.
Backgrounder: ‘The embassy of Switzerland in Egypt, along with Swiss companies, will promote educational and vocational training cooperation, in collaboration with the Egyptian government, Paul Garnier, the ambassador of Switzerland, said earlier in April over the event that was organised by SEBA, noting, “the Egyptian government declared 2019 as a year of education and we will leave our footprint on that.”
How do you assess the performance of the Egyptian economy and how do Swiss companies see the improvements of the investment climate?
We believe that the Egyptian economy has a great potential for more investments and business expansion. In fact, Egypt is currently looked at as a gateway to the African market; as discussions have been already opened to assess potential opportunities for Swiss investments in Africa, seen though their current presence in Egyptian market. That being said, the Egyptian market is considered a window to the whole continent.
How many members does SEBA include? What about plans to further increase their numbers?
SEBA brings together around 160 valued members who significantly contribute to the Egyptian economy and benefit from a wide range of services that SEBA provides. Our objective is to grow and to further acquire members through our strategic growth plan.
What about the latest trade statistics with Egypt by the end of 2018? And the first months of 2019?
Egypt has grown to become one of the most significant trade hubs across the continent as well as the region. By the end of 2018, Egypt succeeded in attracting more trade investors, while focusing on and pushing Egyptian exported products and commodities. As for 2019, we look forward to casting a light on one of Egypt’s finest products, namely textiles. In collaboration with the Swiss side, we are preparing for a trade mission and textile roadshow for the year 2019-2020
How many Swiss companies work in Egypt? What is their amount of investment? What are their main sectors? Is there any interest by new companies for new investments?
The Swiss foreign direct investment in Egypt reached $1.6bn, marking an increase of $400m during the last two years. Swiss investments take place in the fields of industry, energy, pharmaceuticals, financial services, and food.
What about the Swiss officials’ visits to Egypt in 2019? And the trade missions? What are the outcomes of the latest visits?
Switzerland and Egypt are proud to say that economic relations are outstanding in terms of quality. Both, Switzerland and Egypt, have achieved remarkable results from trade missions and delegations to both states.
This year Switzerland and Egypt celebrated 110 years of economic and trade relationships between both countries in the presence of Egypt’s Minister of Investment, Sahar Nasr, the Swiss Foreign Minister, Ignazio Cassis, and the Swiss ambassador to Egypt, Paul Garnier.
Backgrounder: ‘On 25 March 2019, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with the Swiss Federal Councillor, Ignazio Cassis, where he reiterated Egypt’s keenness on boosting relations and cooperation with Switzerland in various fields, said presidential spokesperson, Bassam Rady.
Al-Sisi reviewed the latest economic developments in Egypt during the last period which witnessed the implementation of the comprehensive economic and social development programme.
Cassis noted that Switzerland seeks to bolster ties with Egypt in light of its role played in maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East region. The meeting also tackled means of increasing Swiss investments in Egypt, especially mega development projects.’