A successful business seminar on Opportunities in Egypt was hosted by the ABCC on the morning of 14th March. Organised in cooperation with the Embassy of Egypt in London and the Egyptian-British Chamber of Commerce (EBCC), the event attracted business executives and investors from many different industries.
UK Export Finance, the UK government’s export credits agency, was a partner in the event.
CEO & Secretary General, Mr Bandar Reda, welcomed delegates and described Egypt as a unique market that acts as a bridge between Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He urged delegates to visit to ABCC’s website for details of its forthcoming activities including the Economic Summit.
The ABCC was honoured by the presence of H E Mr Tarek Adel, Egyptian Ambassador to the UK, and by H E Mr Ibrahim F Mohieldeen, the Ambassador for the League of Arab States in London.
Mr Ian Gray, OBE, EBCC Chairman, chaired the discussion which he began by delivering an overview of the market and stressed the importance of closer UK-Egyptian business collaboration.
H E Mr Tarek Adel, the Ambassador, stated that relations between the UK and Egypt were developing rapidly as reflected in numerous trade missions and high level delegations that have taken place since he assumed his post only a few months earlier. The Ambassador cited delegations regarding education, investment and finance. The London Stock Exchange was building contacts with the Egyptian Exchange and Prime Minister Theresa May had attended of the Arab-European summit in Sharm El Sheikh.
Egypt was one of the most promising emerging economies in the world, the Ambassador remarked. Its economic reforms were beginning the bear fruit illustrated by the fact that growth was rising, exports to the UK were on the increase and the number of British tourists was on the increase.
The UK was already the largest foreign investor in the country, but this was mainly confined to the oil and gas sector. New opportunities were emerging as a result of the major projects that Egypt had embarked upon, such as the Suez Economic Zone, the new administrative capital in Cairo and the Golden Triangle mining development.
Ian Gray identified opportunities for UK firms in infrastructure, education, healthcare and export oriented manufacturing. Egypt’s extensive transport plans in development of roads, rail, dry ports and metro offered many business opportunities. Healthcare ambitions offered further opportunities not only for construction firms and project management, but also for suppliers of pharmaceuticals and technical training of medical staff. Specialist technology relating to health was also important.
The financial services industry in Egypt was also a growth area with expansion occurring in microfinance, insurance and capital support facilities for entrepreneurs. The UK’s expertise in financial services meant that it was in a strong position to partner with Egypt in the development of these areas.
Mr Wedad Kurugky, Export Finance Manager, UK Export Finance, remarked on the attraction of Egypt to investors and said that it had a lot of potential for investors. He mentioned the strength of the Egyptian banking industry reflected in the presence of the IFC, EBRD and World Bank in the country.
Mr Kurugky explained the role of UKEF as acting as an interface between the business community and the UK government’s financial support for the private sector firms seeking to win contracts and fulfil export orders overseas.
UKEF support could be extended to firms exporting goods as well as those firms providing services to overseas clients. It was able to help exporters to manage risk by providing insurance products in circumstances where the market is unable to assist.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, the UK Trade Envoy for Egypt, described himself as a great enthusiast for Egypt. The country’s regional significance was increasing, making it an important base for UK firms looking to do business in Africa, the Middle East and the southern Mediterranean.
Sir Jeffrey mentioned skills based education, construction and transport as some of the key areas where UK investors should look to play a role. Healthcare offered the opportunity for strategic partnerships while the mining sector was opening up to foreign investors. Egypt’s reforms were making it easier to invest and do business in the market, he observed.
Mr Matthew Shires, Managing Director, Eurofinsa UK ltd, provided a case story of a success story of a UK-based company operating in the Egyptian market. Eurofinsa, with a record in the execution of civil projects and turnkey Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) projects, was beginning a new hospital construction project in Egypt.