Egypt’s economy is expected to grow by 3.5% throughout 2013 due to an increase in the flow of tourism and foreign investment entering into the country, said experts at the EFG Hermes 9th Annual Economic Conference yesterday in Dubai.
Acceptance of Egypt’s pending International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan, they said, was also expected to have a large effect on the economy, as all eyes were currently focused on the extent to which Egypt’s government will be able to implement the required political and economic reforms needed to successfully acquire the loan.
They added that investment opportunities in Egypt were strong considering that the government was working to increase work opportunities in the country and establish a friendly business environment.
Despite Egypt’s current political and economic challenges, presenters at the conference stated that increased investment in the region’s oil and infrastructure sectors would also extend to Iraq, which has benefitted greatly from recent increases in the world price of oil, a fact which is expected to lead to an increase in the country’s GDP in the medium term.
The conference, expected to last until Wednesday, was attended by 59 listed companies on Middle East and North African stock exchanges, in addition to 230 international investors.
Companies in attendance included those from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories and Kuwait, all operating in various economic sectors. Those from Egypt included the Al-Arafa Investment and Consulting Firm, Oriental Weavers, GB Auto, Eastern Tobacco, Juhayna, Orascom Construction Industries, Ezz Steel, the Amer Group, EIPICO, the Suez Cement Company, Nasr City for Housing and Development, SODIC, and the Swedish-Egyptian Tourist Resort Company.
The conference seeks to shed light on the latest development and investment opportunities in the Middle East, allowing investors looking to do business in the region by holding talks and discussions with prominent businessmen and political leaders from countries all throughout the Middle East and world.
Officials from EFG Hermes said that they viewed 2013 as a year that would see a role-reversal between those companies that produce and import oil. They further predicted that oil prices would remain at steady levels, with countries from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) expected to secure larger surpluses.
They further pointed out that many oil importers would face a number of economic challenges throughout 2013 having to do with closing their budget deficits, which would require comprehensive financial reform. They went on to say that ongoing political deadlock in a number of these countries had recently led to slow economic development, with the situation in many countries reaching critical stages.
With regards to other countries in the region, representatives from EFG Hermes stated that their economies had done well throughout 2012, pointing to the fact that many governments had begun focusing less on oil exportation, pouring larger amounts of capital into housing and infrastructure, leading to large increases in the amount of private sector involvement in these sectors.
Speakers at the conference added that investment in Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates would present both challenges and opportunities for businessmen.