The Export–Import Bank of the United States (US EXIM Bank) is expected to triple its pipeline projects in Egypt to reach $6bn in the next years.
Judith Pryor, member of the board of US EXIM Bank, said that the current commitment of the bank for future cooperation is $2bn.
“EXIM Bank has financed projects in Egypt with $5bn over the past 10 years. We are interested in supporting several economic sectors in Egypt including aviation, agriculture, information and communication technology (ICT), as well as infrastructure, agribusiness, and women in businesses,” Pryor added.
DNE interviewed Pryor on the side-lines of her recent visit to Egypt to participate at the US-Egypt Future Prosperity Forum hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham) on 18 November.
What is the reason behind your visit to Egypt?
I paid Egypt a five-day visit where I discussed with Egyptian partners on how to support the Egyptian economy. Working together with the US EXIM Bank, you can get fair value, transparency and quality of the American products. In addition, all our projects are implemented in line with the high environmental standards. The mission of the US EXIM is to support the US exports. Our projects create jobs not only for the American businesses, but also for Egyptians here on the ground.
Given that the population in Egypt is increasing rapidly, creating jobs is crucial for society and the economy. We hope to simulate job growth both here in Egypt and in the US. One of our important targets is to support women and help them create their own businesses.
Tell us more about the meetings you held.
I met with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly to continue our discussions that began on October 2019 during Madbouly’s visit to Washington DC on the side-lines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meetings where we jointly committed to move forward and work more closely together.
During my visit, I also met with different ministers to reinforce our commitment to help the Egyptian economy perform better, including Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek Al-Molla, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, Minister of Finance Mohamed Moeit, and Minister of Trade and Industry Amr Nassar. In addition, I met with several US business community leaders to know more about their plans and how we can assist them to implement their future projects in Egypt.
Can you please elaborate on your future plans in Egypt?
We currently have about $2bn as pipeline projects. I expect that this amount of funds will be doubled or tripled in the coming years. EXIM Bank was non-operational in Egypt for the past five years. Hence, I consider what we’ve done as an achievement seeing that we financed the market with $5bn over the past 10 years from 2009 to 2019 where five of those years we were unable to finance projects over $10m.
We don’t have a country limitation and we don’t have a project limitation to finance.
What are the economic sectors you are interested in?
We are interested in aviation, agriculture, information and communication technology (ICT), infrastructure, and agribusiness. We also plan to provide finance to the state owned enterprises (SOE) and the private sector.
Do you plan to inaugurate an office in Egypt?
As much as we’d love to do that, we actually don’t have any offices outside of Washington DC. We always closely cooperate with our embassies’ commerce departments’ staff. We have commercial service officers and economic officers. We’re working as a whole government when working with businesses.
Additionally, Prosper Africa initiative which was designed to increase two way trade and investment between the US and African countries including Egypt, has certain elements to enable us to more easily transact business here in Egypt through specific teams that will be based at the US embassy in Cairo.
Our embassy in Egypt is one of our largest embassies that we have and includes one of the largest commercial services team in any country in the world.
Prosper Africa is a US government initiative that unlocks opportunities to do business in Africa, benefiting companies, investors, and workers both in Africa and the US. The Goal of the initiative is to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the US and Africa.
Do you have any recommendation to the Egyptian government to encourage you to invest more in the local market?
I think Egypt and the US have everything that can make US businesses grow and expand.
Can you please shed light on the historical relations between Egypt and EXIM Bank?
The US and Egypt enjoy a long relationship and we look forward to continue on that relationship. Beyond this, 2019 marks the 40 year celebration of the US-Egypt Business Council’s establishment and that’s why I visited Egypt.
The first transaction of the bank here in Egypt was in 1947 with a $6m fertiliser project and since then, we’ve established, in the past 10 years, $5bn worth of projects here in Egypt. We look forward to growing this relationship.
US EXIM Bank is an independent federal agency that promotes and supports American jobs by providing competitive and necessary export credit to overseas purchasers of US goods and services, according to its website.
A robust EXIM Bank can level the global playing field for US exporters when they compete against foreign companies that receive support from their governments. EXIM Bank also contributes to US economic growth by helping to create and sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs in exporting businesses and their supply chains across the US.
In recent years, 90% of the total number of the agency’s authorisations has directly supported small businesses.