Biz Recap

Ahmed A. Namatalla
6 Min Read

Indian industry on display in Cairo

CAIRO: India s Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) brought more than 100 Indian companies to the Cairo fair grounds to showcase their products to local businessmen in the four-day Mactech 2006 exhibition launched Thursday.

Having witnessed 52 percent growth in engineering product exportation to Egypt in 2005, EEPC Chairman Rakesh Shah says his delegation of 120 businessmen came to explore further opportunity considering high growth rates achieved by the manufacturing sector in the past two years.

Some products on display at the exhibition include automobile parts, hand tools, machinery, medical instruments and measuring and testing equipment.

It s the wrong notion that India only makes software, Shah told The Daily Star Egypt. Software is only a part of what India makes. For example, we re the third largest producer of cotton in the world behind the United States and China.

Shah adds Egyptian cotton producers should not view India as a competitor because it produces medium-staple cotton compared with Egypt s long-staple fiber. Egyptian businesses could also look to Indian machinery for quality and reliability over their Chinese counterparts, he says.

Egyptian-Indian bilateral trade reached $1 billion in 2005-6, up from $630 million the previous year. India s manufacturing sector last came to Egypt in 2000 for its first exhibition, after which Egyptian imports of Indian engineering products rose by 29 percent, compared with a 9 percent annual growth rate in 1999.

Culturally, we are very close so it makes life much easier to do business, says Shah. Still, he declined to comment on why India has been left out of the government s efforts to bolster trade ties with the East, including China, Russia and Kazakhstan.

Bank of Alexandria-San Paolo to expand into Mena region

CAIRO: Bank of Alexandria-San Paolo (BASP) Chairman Mahmoud Abdel Latif said Tuesday the bank plans to expand into the Middle East and North Africa region after the acquisition of 80 percent of its shares by Italy s San Paolo IMI Group.

Abdel Latif s comments came during the grand opening ceremony of the recently privatized bank with Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in attendance. Abdel Latif added BASP plans to increase its market share in Egypt to 15 percent in a matter of months by offering new products to retail and institutional clients, and in the mortgage finance and small and medium enterprise financing sectors.

Abdel Latif did not elaborate on the bank s expansion plans, or what timeframe has been set for them.

Since the bank s sale in October, San Paolo management had decided to keep Abdel Latif at the bank s helm, but elected to change the bank s name to reflect the Group s presence. San Paolo s LE 9.3 billion ($1.6 billion) bid emerged as the winner of the government s auction, marking a 5.5 multiple of its book value.

According to Central Bank Deputy Governor Tarek Amer, the government will divide its remaining 20 percent stake in BASP into a 5 percent portion to be offered to the bank s 6,000 employees and another 15 percent stake to be floated on the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange pending appropriate market conditions.

Egypt to import wheat from Kazakhstan

CAIRO: Minister of Foreign Trade and Industry (MFTI) Rachid Mohammed Rachid announced Monday that an agreement had been reached with the government of Kazakhstan to import 120,000 tons of wheat worth $29 million in an effort to boost bilateral trade between the two countries. Kazakhstan businesses, on the other hand, have shown interest in Egyptian pharmaceuticals and rugs, MFTI added.

An MFTI statement did not specify the price per ton agreed upon, but a calculation of the numbers yielded results of $241 per ton. The statement said the first shipments of the premium-quality, high-fiber content wheat are due to arrive in January and February 2007. Rachid said next year could see Egypt import as much as $170 million in wheat from Kazakhstan, a first time wheat exporter to Egypt.

Egypt has reduced its order volumes in recent years of high-fiber wheat because of increasing global prices. The most the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) paid in 2005 was $160 per ton of United States hard-red wheat, a high-protein variety. The majority of the 5.8 million tons imported by the authority last year comprised of soft white varieties from sources including the US, Russia, France, Argentina and Australia for prices in the $120-$140 per ton range.

In 2006, US soft varieties reached $200 per ton, up from about $145 per ton in 2005. Russian and French wheat have also climbed from $125 and $140 per ton, respectively, to $180 per ton, according to GASC. Accordingly, the type of wheat to be imported from Kazakhstan will rival the US hard-red variety, also selling around the $240 per ton mark at last check with US Wheat.

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