Mission for Growth: Seizing mutual benefit for businesses in the EU and Egypt

Brussels, 15-11-2012 — /europawire.eu/ — Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani is in Egypt today, accompanied by a large business delegation composed of representatives of 102 European companies and industry associations from 13 Member States. Collectively they represent approximately three million employees and €700 billion in turnover. This mission is part of the new series of “Missions for Growth” to help European enterprises, in particular small and medium sized enterprises to better profit from fast growing emerging international markets. It is the largest such “Mission for Growth” headed by Vice President Tajani to date, quadrupling the usual participation numbers.

During his visit Vice President Tajani will sign four Letters of Intent with his Egyptian counterparts which identify avenues for

  • closer co-operation on reduction of SME administrative burden
  • industrial co-operation
  • tourism policy
  • standardisation

Tourism should restore growth

In order to help provide policy recommendations for the Task Force, the European Commission has organised a dedicated business and tourism forum in Cairo today. The Forum mobilised more than 150 European business representatives and tourism stakeholders, to engage in debate and to network with the Egyptian business and tourism community. They proposed action points to help Egypt’s economy and tourism sector back-on-track. Both sides are also aware of the pivotal role the tourism sector has traditionally played in the Egyptian economy. In the wake of the Arab Spring, this sector has suffered dramatically, and it is essential to make it flourish again. During the Forum EU business leaders and stakeholders will debate “Davos style” and will also meet several Egyptian Ministers in bilateral meetings.

EU Egypt Task Force

Tomorrow, 14 November, Vice President Antonio Tajani, together with Commissioner responsible for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Füle, will participate in the first meeting of the EU-Egypt Task Force, at the invitation of EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Catherine Ashton. By bringing together political and economic leaders from both sides of the Mediterranean the EU and the Arab Republic of Egypt can collectively address their shared agenda of boosting investment, restarting tourism, opening markets, creating jobs and offering new opportunities to businesses in Egypt.

The EU-Egypt Task Force is an opportunity for the European Union to come together to send a strong signal of support to the Egyptian people. This mission aims at fostering industrial cooperation and business relation with the Arab Republic of Egypt. The success of the transition in Egypt will have a significant impact on the economy of the region and globally, and European and Egyptian business communities can play a major and mutually beneficial role.

Egypt’s economy

With a GDP of more than EGP 1 300bn (€ 166.6 bn), Egypt is the third largest economy in Africa and among the 50 largest in the world. After Nigeria and Ethiopia, Egypt is the third most populated country in Africa, its population exceeding 80 million, with a GDP per capita of EGP 15 600 (€ 2 099,2.2). Economic growth in Egypt has been slow, with GDP growth of 2.2% in 2011-2012. However increased political stability has led to some positive economic signs. Most of the real output growth since 2000 has come from services, now accounting for almost half of Egyptian GDP (49%) and employment (51%).

Egypt’s foreign trade

Exports: EU is Egypt’s main trading partner, absorbing 30.5% of Egypt’s total exports. In recent years Egyptian exports to the EU have steadily increased. The structure of Egypt’s exports broadly reflects the structure of the economy, with services accounting for almost half of total exports. Egypt’s exports to the EU were mainly: (i) fuels and mining products; (ii) chemicals and (iii) agricultural products. Egypt is a net exporter of services.

Imports: The largest single group of imports to Egypt come from the EU. In 2010 the imports from the EU to Egypt accounted for 32.6% of the total import to the Egyptian market. Saudi Arabia and the United States are the second and third largest sources of imports to Egypt. The main EU products exported to Egypt are: (i) machinery and transport equipment; (ii) fuels and mining products (iii) chemicals.

Major markets: European Union, United States and China.

EU trade with Egypt

Exports: EU exports to Egypt have increased over time but slightly decreased from 2010 to 2011. EU exports to Egypt represent 0.9% of the total EU exports. In terms of major export partners for the EU, Egypt ranks number 24.

Imports: imports from Egypt to the EU represent only 0.6% of the total imports to the European market and Egypt ranks only 36 in terms of EU import partners.

Foreign direct investment

Egypt is one of the more open economies in the Middle East and North Africa and is also the number one recipient of FDI in the South-Mediterranean region. The EU is Egypt’s main source of FDI, it accounts for 80% of total FDI. EU FDI to Egypt from 2008 to 2009 dramatically decreased from 10.8 to 2.8 billion euro, mainly as a result of the financial crises. Egyptian FDI to the EU decreased from 2008 to 2010 from 0.8 to -0.2 billion euro.

Following Egypt’s political transition, new investment opportunities have been created, but many EU investors also face a new range of difficulties. The meetings conducted during this mission should be able to examine the opportunities but also address EU business concerns about protection of investment.

The Task Force was announced at the meeting in Brussels of the new Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi, with European Commission president José Manuel Barroso on 13 September. Egypt has recently held the first democratic elections in its long history and it is clear that the Egyptian president sees the European Union as major partner for the new Egypt.

Business Delegation to Egypt

The 150 strong delegation is composed of representatives of 102 European companies and industry representatives from 13 Member States. The companies present in the delegation represent more or less three million employees and approximately €700 billion in turnover.

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