Minister of Industry Tarek Kabil during his speech at Canada-Egypt Business Council- File Photo
CAIRO – 28 September 2017: Egypt is working to increase Canada’s investments in the country to exceed the current level of $2 billion, Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Tarek Kabil said Wednesday.
In a conference organized by Canada-Egypt Business Council about the industrial sector, Kabil said that bilateral trade between both countries registered $1.1 billion in 2016.
“Egyptian exports hiked 35 percent last year to record $78 million, while imports from Canada went down 25 percent to stand at $250 million,” the minister said, noting that trade surplus marked $530 million in favor of Egypt.
Reviewing the economic scene in Egypt, the Head of Canada-Egypt Business Council Moataz Raslan said during his speech that the business climate has now improved thanks to the issuance of a number of regulations such as the New Investment Law and the Industrial Permits Act.
“At this time last year, we were suffering from weak foreign exchange for the Egyptian pound, lack of investments and closure of many factories,” Raslan said.
Listing previous challenges, Kabil also said that the industrial sector was facing hurdles in the availability of land plots, negative industrial growth, in addition, industries shifting from manufacturing to the commercial sector caused low production rates. Among other challenges also was a shortage in foreign currency, gas and electricity.
The ministry has solved a great deal of the problems of the industrial licenses, where 634 days were required for a permit to be issued after attaining the approvals of 11 bodies. Now, a license could be obtained in less than 30 days through only the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), he said.
Around 16 million meters of industrial plots were offered for sale in 2016, compared to 9.5 million meters in 2015, Kabil said; expecting that by 2018, Egypt would have plots with no demand on them. The industrial plots that will be offered are expected to reach 60 million meters by 2020.
Kabil highlighted that he is aiming to increase the contribution of the industrial sector of the GDP to 21 percent from a current level of 17.7 percent by 2020, as part of the government’s national strategy.
“The main sectors that the strategy is focusing on are the chemical, building materials, textile and engineering sectors,” the minister said, explaining that new entries in these sectors will be offered incentives.
Egypt’s strategy will focus on four pillars; development, boosting foreign trade, training, and governance. “We started with the development part as we issued land plots for investors, and launching industrial clusters in different governorates,” Kabil said.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry has issued the law’s executive regulations on August 13. Under the law, 80 percent of the projects will be granted licenses upon notifications, while 20 percent will have to wait for the approval of the IDA due to being categorized as “risky” industries.