Egypt has a powerful and attractive investment climate, French ambassador to Egypt, Stéphane Romatet, said during a video conference held last week.
The conference was held with the participation of over 100 businesspeople from France and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) interested in making inroads in the Egyptian market.
Romatet highlighted the strong political, social, economic, and cultural ties between Egypt and France, shedding light on Paris support for Cairo in its development programmes, as well as the multiple Egyptian projects in which French companies can participate.
Meanwhile, the ambassador praised the effective procedures followed by Egypt’s health agencies in handling the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
From the beginning, Egypt took decisive measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus and protect lives, while at the same time addressing the needs of economic stability, Romatet told Daily News Egypt.
The ambassador also applauded the involvement and participation of some French companies in developing several projects in Egypt, especially in the infrastructure and transportation sectors.
Romatet added, “We will have to ensure that French tourists return to Egypt, given the vital role this sector plays for the economy.”
Daily News Egypt interviewed Romatet to talk further on his vision for Egypt’s economy and the future investments from France.
Egypt has taken strict precautionary measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus. What is your evaluation of Egypt’s economy under the crisis?
You are right, from the beginning Egypt took decisive measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus and protect lives while at the same time addressing the issue of economic stability.
Of course, this global pandemic has severely impacted, and will continue to impact, all our economies. France and Egypt are no exception and we have experienced economic shocks.
However, what I see, based on the existing projections, is that even though growth will decelerate, Egypt will have a positive growth rate this year despite the crisis. This is good and encouraging news. This is for sure the result of the reform programme, which has been in place in the country since 2016.
I want to add also that the time after the COVID-19 pandemic is the time of reconstruction and recovery. We are actively working on it, in France and in Europe. Nevertheless, we will have also, on the bilateral side, to re-launch all business relations between France and Egypt, which have by way of unintentional necessity been halted by the crisis.
We will have also to ensure that French tourists return to Egypt, given the vital role this sector plays for Egypt’s economy. This is some of the objectives we will work on in the coming months, very actively.
France plays a major role in Egypt in terms of existing investments, but some economists expect FDIs will be rationalised after coronavirus. Do you think French investments in Egypt will be rationalised?
France and its companies are among Egypt’s main investment partners. Over 160 French companies are operating in Egypt, and they have created about 40,000 jobs in the country. In the past four months, I have witnessed that French companies did not stop their activities in Egypt during the COVID- 19 crisis, and they are progressively returning to normal.
I am convinced that this epidemic and the period that will follow will open new perspectives and opportunities for French companies in Egypt. This is precisely what I said to more than 150 French companies that we gathered last week with Business France for a webinar dedicated to the Egyptian market and its opportunities. The interest is evident, and I am confident that as soon as the health situation allows, French companies will be there to support Egypt’s development agenda and to respond to the post-COVID-19 needs of the country.
France has much experience in the health field. What is it doing to help Egypt overcome the COVID-19 crisis?
France and Egypt have been cooperating in the healthcare sector for quite a long time. We are one of the main partners of Egypt in this sector. The Agence Française de Developpement (AFD) is conducting large-scale cooperation with the Egyptian government, be it with ongoing projects to promote the primary healthcare system or to support the social protection sector.
In addition, the French Embassy supports cooperation in hospitals through the funding of missions by doctors and scientists, as well as seminars and bilateral research projects.
To support Egypt’s emergency responses to the pandemic, we signed a €15m agreement last month with the Minister of International Cooperation and the Minister of Health to support Egypt’s fight against COVID-19 and to acquire medical equipment.
More generally, it is clear that the COVID-19 crisis we have faced, and which is not over yet unfortunately, will require that we deepen further our cooperation in the field of health, which has more than ever appeared to be, everywhere in the world, a top priority. Enhancing this cooperation in the health sector between France and Egypt will be at the very centre of our agenda for the coming weeks and months.