CAIRO: “Egypt is a great FDI success story, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Chief Executive Sir Andrew Cahn said Monday.
Cahn was speaking at a working luncheon hosted by the British Egyptian Business Association in honor of his first official visit to Egypt following his appointment to the Chief Executive of UKTI.
“The levels of FDI are a great vote of confidence in the country’s economic reform program, Cahn said.
UKTI is the government agency responsible for promoting exports and attracting investment to the UK.
Sir Cahn also sits on the boards of the Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO) and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).
Cahn’s visit to Egypt underscores the strong partnership between Egypt and the UK in trade and investment. The UK is currently the largest foreign investor in Egypt, with over 900 companies operating in the country including major corporations like Vodafone, Unilever and Shell.
In 2007/2008 UK foreign direct investment in Egypt reached $13.2 billion, up from a mere $500 million in 2000/2001. In 2007, the UK and Egypt had a total bilateral trade of goods and services totaling £2.5 billion.
“We need to make our business relationship even stronger. This week I sat down with policymakers in business and industry to compare our strengths and strategies, because we need to bring our thinking together. We need to look at different sectors where we can work better together, Cahn added.
In 2008, UK exports of goods to Egypt rose 28 percent to £909 million, while Egyptian exports to the UK increased 11 percent to £617 million. In the first three months of 2009, UK exports to Egypt rose an additional 13 percent. Egypt is Britain’s 37th largest export market.
In his remarks, Cahn highlighted Britain’s status as a top industrial country, and announced that future economic policy would allow for more interventionism to identify and support sectors in which the UK enjoys comparative advantage such as IT, life sciences and electronics.
Commenting on the effects of the financial crisis on international trade, Cahn concluded that although the worst of the crisis has passed, the world will continue to face challenges into the future.
“We’ve stabilized the banking system, established international cooperation and avoided the meltdown that could have resulted from the crisis. I think we still have a number of very challenging years to get through and that government and business must work together closely to face these challenges, he said.
Cahn also emphasized the importance of global cooperation and forcefully rejected the idea that isolationism is the answer to the current financial turmoil.
“Isolationism is wrong: it hurts all countries including the one isolating itself. Studies done in Britain show that companies that invest internationally are 30 percent more productive. Trade is the way forward, he stated.
Sir Cahn expressed high hopes regarding the potential for cooperation between Egypt and Britain into the future and announced the implementation of several new joint projects that will help establish Egypt as a springboard for global business.
“In Britain we like to offer ourselves as a launching point for global business. Egypt is well positioned to do this as well due to its geography and large educated workforce, he said.
New UK-Egypt initiatives include a Rolls Royce-Egypt Air partnership, a Center of Excellence for engineering training, and several technical and educational cluster projects.
In conclusion, Cahn expressed his hope that Britain will help lead a new industrial revolution in the 21st century based on innovation with the help of its global partners.
“Education and innovation are the currency of the 21st century, he said.