Egypt holds forum to lure Gulf investment

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-12-5 9:08:55

A group of Egyptian ministers on Wednesday advocated the country's investment opportunities in a forum attended by a number of businessmen from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, demonstrating Egypt's keenness on attracting Gulf capitals.

The first Egypt/GCC Investment Forum jointly hosted by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) kicked off in Cairo on Wednesday, with the attendance of about 500 businessmen from Egypt, Arab Gulf states and other countries.

Egypt's economic cabinet, including the prime minister and his deputy, finance minister, investment minister, central bank governor, as well as prominent political figures, all came to address the investors in the forum.

Despite the current challenges the country is facing, the Egyptian interim government is trying to boost the economy and improve the investment environment, said several cabinet members who took part in the forum.

As Minister of Investment Osama Saleh told Xinhua in an exclusive interview two months ago, Egypt expected to focus more on Gulf countries by holding such kind of face-to-face conference to introduce the investment opportunities in the country.

The minister emphasized during the forum Wednesday that increasing Arab investments in Egypt, especially the Gulf ones, would reflect confidence in Egypt's investment plan.

According to him, the total of GCC countries' investments in Egypt is up to 49 billion US dollars, almost equal to the total value of western investments which is 46 billion dollars.

"The government worked since June 30 with full capacity to cover the consequences of the consecutive political developments, boost the investment environment and attract more Arab and foreign investments to Egypt," said Saleh.

Although the net Foreign Direct Investment of Egypt by the end of the 2012/2013 fiscal year stands at 3 billion dollars, shrinking 1 billion dollars compared to the last fiscal year, Ahmed Galal, the finance minister, said that many other economic indicators have markedly improved, citing as an example the upgrading of Egypt's credit rating by Standard & Poor's.

"The loan-to-deposit ratio in Egypt is 46 percent and in some countries reaches 100 percent, which proves Egypt's banking sector has enough liquidity," said Hisham Ramez, governor of Egypt's Central Bank.

While the Egyptian officials are trying their best to persuade the guests to take money out of their pockets, the Gulf investors have their own opinions over Egypt's investment environment.

Talal Malik, chairman of Alpha 1 Corp. from the UAE, sees the current situation in Egypt is better than before and shows his optimism over doing business in Egypt, however, he said Egypt has "lost three years" since the beginning of 2011.

"Dubai gives priority to economy ahead of politics, and that's why Dubai has a strong economy. Now the Egyptian people and the government must agree on that economic development is the most essential issue," said Malik.

"Investors won't care about which political style a country has, but if the country is well-governed," he added.

For his part, Fahad A. Al-Saneea, vice president for Business Development of Atheeb Group in Saudi Arabia, told Xinhua that it's too early to consider investing in Egypt without the political stability.

"Investors won't do business in unstable and unsafe countries," said Al-Saneea, asserting that he would not sign any contracts during the period of the two-day forum.

The Egyptian investment minister had expected big contracts to be signed in the forum. As the forum is still ongoing, it's hard to draw a conclusion if his hope would come true. But what could be sure is restoring security and stability as early as possible is key to attracting investments for Egypt.

Posted in: Mid-East

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