Egypt’s food exports are projected to decrease by 30% due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, according to Hani Berzi, Chairperson of Food Export Council (FEC).
During an Egyptian Junior Business Association (EJB) webinar held last Thursday, Berzi said Egypt’s agriculture and food sector exports during the first two months of 2020 were not affected by the coronavirus. He added that exports had, in fact, increased by 8% during this period.
The webinar had been convened to discuss the effects and implications of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak on Egypt’s food and agriculture sectors.
Berzi said that the solutions to the current crisis are not based on previous experience, but rather require an in-depth study of the situation which will lead to innovative solutions.
“However, factories operating in the food sector will not be able to continue their production process if the coronavirus crisis continues for another two or three months,” he said. “Moreover, there are countries that will face many problems if the crisis persists for nine months, not only in the industrial sector, but also in other economic sectors.”
Should a complete lockdown come into effect, the resulting damage will be severe enough for factories to be unable to recover, as they will not be able to continue to pay wages, Berzi added.
The government has to provide support to the industrial sector to ensure that it continues operations and keep exports going. This is especially important as it will be one of the few sources of hard currency with the tourism and expatriate remittances from abroad in a slump.
Manar Nasr, FEC’s CEO, stressed the need to replace imports with local products to meet any supply chain shortages.
Nasr suggested that the list of imports be analysed and studied to determine whether imported products can be replaced with a local counterpart. This would be undertaken in coordination with export councils and chambers before a final decision is made, to avoid financial losses on companies.