By Enam El-Edwa
Ahmed El-Wakeel, President of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC), has said that the cabinet will make final changes to the proposed amendments by the end of this year before they are passed to parliament for approval.
He noted that this law will allow many companies to increase returns. Wakeel also pointed out that business organisations such as FEDCOC work with political leadership to create an investment climate tailored to the economic priorities of the state.
He believes that Egypt is unable to attract any new investment because the current system is outdated and ill-suited to address Egypt’s current economic needs.
He stressed the need to learn from other systems rather than to try and reinvent the wheel, citing the success enjoyed by bolstered economies in places such as Singapore, Dubai, and Hong Kong.
He added that the Suez Canal project, if implemented correctly, would put the all the world’s money at Egypt’s fingertips, accelerating investment and attracting business.
Wakeel went on to say that FEDCOC has entered talks about the Suez Canal development project with similar entities from other nations. However, he stressed that the official promotion process will be delayed until Dar Al-Handasah has finished the planning phase.
The Advisory Coalition, which includes Dar Al-Handasah, was given the responsibility of producing an outline for the development project.
The Suez Canal is already one of the most important shipping lanes in the world. Egypt hopes to transform it into a global centre of commerce and production, which would bring billions of dollars into the country and help address its economic woes.
Wakeel added that the promotion campaign will include investment promotion, particularly for airports, seaports, and other logistics operations.
The area around the canal will be used for 16,500 acres of industrial land, with an additional 3,500 acres set aside for the tech industry, and 77,000 acres for fish farms. Finally, 4 million acres will be dedicated to the tourism industry, recreation, and the necessary infrastructure such as power plants and water treatment facilities.
He stressed the need to achieve quick growth in the Suez Canal area through a mechanical and legislative overhaul of the existing system.
Wakeel believes the government has the responsibility to coordinate with workers, residents, and private investors in the region in order to efficiently allocate space, money, and contracts over the course of the development project.
Wakeel also said that the opening of Port Qustul in August will have a markedly positive impact on Egyptian-Sudanese relations.
He stressed the importance of an Egyptian presence in Africa, particularly the Nile Basin, in order to take full advantage of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) free trade agreement.
He charged business leaders and investors with utilising Egypt’s land routes to Sudan in order to strengthen the bonds between these already economically interdependent nations.
He pointed out that Sudan could become Egypt’s southern gateway to markets across the entire continent, and expressed his optimism about creating more trade agreements like COMESA.
He praised the role of the Ministry of Supply in restructuring the system to support bakers, and denied the allegations of theft levelled at the Ministry, saying they serve the people first and foremost.
The price of flour has been allowed to partially fluctuate, and in turn the price of bread, allowing bakers to net 35 piasters for every loaf sold to a citizen with a smart-card.
While the new ration system allocates each family EGP 15 monthly, an additional EGP 7 is awarded during the month of Ramadan which can be used for general purchase.
Wakeel stressed that the government has a serious interest in developing grain storage projects, which will provide high-quality food to the population and create new commercial opportunity.
He ruled out the possibility that an increased public presence would affect the private sector’s development.
He followed up by saying that the government is currently faced with a number of vital issues that must be addressed in order to achieve economic development. These include restoring confidence in Egypt’s economic climate, attracting new investment, and creating jobs.
Wakeel stressed the importance of diversifying Egypt’s relations with all nations. He said that diplomatic interactions should not be limited to a few specific states. He also praised Egypt’s strengthened ties to Russia and pointed out that Russian transportation and logistics companies were eyeing the Egyptian market.
Wakeel said that FEDCOC has begun to explore the possibility of establishing an EGP 200m commodity exchange between Alexandria and El Beheira Chambers of Commerce, followed by one between Qalyubia and Al Sharqia.
He stressed the importance of solidifying industrial infrastructure to the establishment of these commodity exchanges so that they may be traded internationally.
Wakeel also noted that FEDCOC has a plan to increase the number of commodity exchanges to 27, all to be overseen by FEDCOC member chambers, to ensure everyone can benefit from the new markets.
He then praised efforts by consumer groups to lower prices by 20 to 30 % for most food items. He added that the government is completely free to implement these cuts, because they will have no ill effects on retail stores.
Wakeel stressed the need to secure the roads leading to investment and production centres and cities against destructive activities such as marches, demonstrations, and sit-ins.
Regarding the flow of imported goods, Wakeel said that the central bank will inject the necessary liquidity into the import sector in order to increase the supply of imported goods without deflating prices.
Lastly, Wakeel stressed that there are no foreseeable problems with opening letters of credit, particularly in light of the availability of the dollar and recent price stability.