Business Mission Summary
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Egypt Business Council (USEBC), the Egypt-U.S. Business Council (EUSBC) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham Egypt), concluded a highly successful business mission, where sixty six leading American companies; represented by almost 170 senior executives were here in Cairo during the period from November 9-11; in an unprecedented show of commitment to Egypt’s long-term stability and prosperity. The visiting delegation was by far the largest in the history of the bilateral relationship underscoring the U.S. business community’s interest and optimism in the Egyptian market.
The delegation was accompanied by Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State, Ambassador David Thorne, and led by the Chairman, CEO & President of Apache Corporation and Chairman of the U.S.-Egypt Business Council, Steve Farris; Senior Member Board of Directors, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Greg Lebedev; Chairman of the Egypt-U.S. Business Council, Omar Mohanna; and, President of AmCham Egypt, Anis Aclimandos.
The delegation included global and regional heads of many of the biggest multinationals across a range of industries and sectors, including energy, ICT, infrastructure, health, industrial production, agribusiness, aviation and other sectors. Accompanying the delegation were senior representatives from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the United States Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), who were present to liaise the funding of potential investments in different sectors.
As the leading business organizations engaged in the U.S.-Egypt economic relationship, this mission underscores our collective dedication to promoting bilateral trade and investment as well as a commitment to working with Egypt’s leaders to encourage fiscal, labor, legal, tax and regulatory reforms that will improve the business environment and create a more dynamic Egyptian economy. A key message was carried by the delegationâ€”the United States is as ever committed to Egypt’s long-term development; and while Egypt becomes increasingly open for business, the business community represented by this delegation has a major stake in helping to stabilize and to grow Egypt's economy for the benefit of its citizens.
This business mission provided American business leaders an opportunity to explore the tremendous commercial and investment opportunities in Egypt and to make clear our organizations’ unwavering support of a strong bilateral economic relationship. Throughout Egypt’s transition, we have remained confident in its economic potential and are committed to expanding commercial ties between our nations. We believe that American business has a stake in ensuring the success of recent efforts by Egypt’s leadership to become a market-oriented economy in which the private sector has the primary role.
The delegation’s mission was reflected in its extensive itinerary. During the two and a half day visit, members of the delegation were actively betrothed in a very busy schedule; the highlight of which was a meeting with Egypt’s President El-Sisi, where they listened to His Excellency’s vision for improving the economy and some of the challenges Egypt is currently facing. The President explained Egypt’s unique experience in facing terrorism and laid out a vision for a “New Egypt,” and with his very talented Cabinet spoke candidly about the issues that they confront and their strategies for an economic renaissance that will get an inherited ailing economy back on track and restore the vitality of this 7000 year-old society. Throughout our discussions, we were deeply impressed by the vision outlined for Egypt’s future which draws on its strategic location, human capital and large domestic market to position itself as a regional and global hub for manufacturing, innovation, commodities, services and logistics.
For the duration of the mission, Egypt’s business community gathered for an intensive series of events and ministerial panels, featuring presentations and speeches by leading cabinet members, who were keen to communicate efforts of their respective ministries in attracting investments as well as to present opportunities available within their sectors to members of the delegation and a large audience of AmCham members. These events included; a Luncheon Meeting and Ministerial Panel with Guest Speakers; H.E. Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, Minister of Trade, Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises and H.E. Ashraf Salman, Minister of Investment; a Breakfast meeting and Ministerial Panel, with Guest Speakers H.E. Khaled Hanafy, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, H.E. Mohamed Shaker, Minister of Electricity & Renewable Energy, H.E. Sherif Ismail, Minister of Petroleum & Metallurgical Wealth, and H.E. Mostafa Madbouli, Minister of Housing, Utilities & Urban Communities; and a Special Luncheon Meeting with Guest Speaker; H.E. Hisham Ramez, Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt. Throughout those meetings, all members of the Egyptian Cabinet were increasingly candid about the reform measures being taken and their likely impact on stirring the economy and stimulating economic growth.
A number of side meetings were scheduled for members of the delegation with Egypt’s Prime Minister, Ibrahim Mahlab, and other cabinet ministers on the margins of the mission including; a meeting with H.E. Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs; H.E. Hany Dahy, Minister of Transportation; H.E. Hossam Kamel, Minister of Civil Aviation; and, H.E. Dr. Adel El-Adawy, Minister of Health and Population. A special visit was organized to the Smart Village, where members of the delegation were welcomed by H.E. Atef Helmy, Minister of Communication and Information Technology.
A high-profile dinner reception was hosted on November 10th by Marriott International in honor of the visiting delegation and as part of the ‘Activ8 Egypt’ campaign;a campaign that the Cairo Marriott has recently launched to boost Egyptian tourism. During the event, the significance of ‘The Palace’ of The Cairo Marriott as the venue was highlighted, being the venue that witnessed the historic events related to the opening of the Suez Canal back in 1869. Minister of Tourism H.E. Hisham Zaazou delivered the
welcoming remarks, and H.E. Hany Kadry gave the key note speech stressing his efforts to stabilize and grow the economy.
A financing panel was organized on the first day of the mission with senior representatives from Ex-Im Bank, OPIC, IFC and EBRD. The panel was moderated by the U.S. Treasury Attachأ©. The U.S. Embassy’s Commercial Service also played an instrumental role in coordinating special B2B meetings for members of the delegation with potential counterparts from Egypt. One-on-one meetings were also scheduled with senior representatives from OPIC and Ex-Im Bank.
A special session on the Suez Canal Project was hosted on the second day, where members of the delegation got to know more about this significant national project and the opportunities available to investors as part of the area development component of the project within several key sectors.
The Mission’s press conference was organized on the last day, where leaders of the delegation had the opportunity to highlight the outcomes of the mission and share their insights with members of the press as well as to respond to their questions. This was well attended by local and international correspondents and a large number of TV stations which covered all mission-related activities.
On behalf of the U.S. Administration, Ambassador Thorne expressed his strong conviction that a critical component of Egypt’s success is economic growth driven by policy reform; a topic that was extensively addressed during all meetings with cabinet members. Senior members of the delegation have also expressed their strong interest in Egypt's inclusive economic growth; its ability to expand job opportunities for its people and in its increased integration into the regional and global economy through the growth of trade and investment. Members of the delegation saw enormous opportunities for both countries that are yet to be explored and expressed their genuine interest in supporting efforts to reignite Egypt's economy.
It is worth noting that this visit by the U.S. delegation comes at a pivotal time in Egypt’s history, where a number of mega-projects aimed at jumpstarting the economy and providing employment have just been launched. Such projects have triggered the interest of most U.S. companies that were part of the delegation.
Several positive economic signals were highlighted repeatedly during almost all meetings:
- Egypt’s economic growth has accelerated to 3.7 percent in the last three months, from 2.5 percent in the previous quarter.
- Egypt’s benchmark EGX 30 Index for stocks has surged more than 40 percent this year, making it the world’s best performer.
- Egypt’s financial rating was raised to ‘Stable’ by Standard & Poor last week, signaling positive economic progress.
- A series of significant reforms and national projects have been launched. The current government has made a fast start on economic reform; slashing costly fuel subsidies, adjusting taxes and devising infrastructure projects to secure long-term revenues and ease unemployment.
- Egypt's flagship project of expanding the Suez Canal, the strategic global shipping lane, which brings in about $5 billion of revenue each year, adding to the country's foreign reserves; has been launched and L.E. 64 billion in local funding raised in just one week.
- The Suez Canal Area Development Project launched by the government intends to transform the Suez Canal area into an economic international hub that will contribute to long-term development socio-economic and strategic objectives.
- These recent updates have sent out waves of optimism throughout business communities and networks seeking lucrative investment opportunities in one of the MENA region's largest and most stable economies.
The delegation were assured, both through factual evidence and during multiple interactions with Egypt’s cabinet members, that the current government was truly committed to economic progress and to moving forward with its economic reform agenda in order to encourage new investment and expanded existing commercial operations.
This visit has surely paved the road for the awaited investment conference that Egypt will host in March 2015 and has shed the light on many available opportunities for U.S. investments and commercial opportunities across a number of key sectors.
Streamlined investment opportunities, a stabilized political situation, and abundant and talented human capital all support the key message emphasized by the new Egyptian government during this historic business mission: Egypt is open for business and eager to grow. With a President, Cabinet and Egyptian business partners ready to engage, now is the moment to expand our commercial activities and fully renew our long-standing bilateral relationship.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S.-Egypt Business Council, the Egypt-U.S. Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt all stand ready to work with stakeholders in the Egyptian and U.S. private and public sectors to strengthen our partnerships and expand our collaborations with the goal of transforming Egypt’s economy and helping it realize its incredible potential.
Ambassador David Thorne to Lead U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Delegation to Egypt
On November 9-11, the Department of State will participate in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce business delegation visit to Egypt involving more than 150 U.S. executives representing over 60 companies. This is the U.S. Chamber’s largest international trade delegation ever, demonstrating that the Chamber and its members perceive significant opportunities to invest and do business in Egypt. The delegation will be led by Senior Advisor to the Secretary Ambassador David Thorne, and will include representatives from the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The delegation will meet with senior government officials during their visit to discuss opportunities for U.S. investment in Egypt. This marks Ambassador Thorne’s fourth trip to Egypt in the last nine months, and we look forward to productive discussions on ways to support Egypt’s economic initiatives that encourage expanded U.S. trade and investment.