By Mohamed Ayyad and Mostafa Fahmy
Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman said that the marketing committee for the Egypt economic summit, scheduled to be held in the first quarter of 2015, gave Egyptian investment banks responsibility for preparingand reviewing all plans and investment opportunities.
The banks will also be responsible for tendering the projects to investors at the summit.
The committee held a meeting on Sunday with representatives of most investment banks.
During a press conference held to announce the details of the 16th conference for Arab investors held in Cairo on 23 and 24 November, Salman said that the global schedule of conferences and holidays is the main reason for delaying the economic summit – which was initially due to be held in February 2015 but was pushed back to March 2015 – explaining that the government would leave the private sector to take the lead on development.
“The private sector is called to exhibit investment opportunities during the economic summit and we have three releases that will be exhibited during the conference as tenders specifically for Arab and Egyptian businessmen,” Salman said. The private sector is represented in investment banks that will promote government projects and investment opportunities, he explained.
Salman also said that consultations had not yet taken place with the International Monetary Fund to obtain a new loan. “We currently do not have any intentions to borrow from the IMF,” he said, but added that the decision to borrow or not is related to the IMF delegation’s report evaluating economic performance currently in Cairo.
“Paying debts to foreign partners in the petroleum sector is a priority and we, along with the petroleum ministry, are studying the possibility of offering bonds on international markets as a finance ministry guarantee to pay a portion of the debts,” the minister said. He estimated debts to be worth $5.9bn.
Minister of Industry Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said that the Arab Investors Conference “is an introductory step through which we will exhibit the truth and the results of government efforts for economic, social, and political reform to the Arab financial community before the economic summit.” Approximately 1,000 participants will attend, in addition to all Arab trade chambers as well as investors from South America.
“President Al-Sisi will begin a promotional tour in France and Italy ending in China on 23 December in order to promote political, economic, and legislative changes as well as increasing trade exchange,” Abdel-Nour said. China is Egypt’s largest trade partner with a volume of $11bn in trade, followed by the United States with $7.7bn.
The president will hold a summit including 26 heads of African states participating in trilateral trade blocs COMESA and SADC, controlled by South Africa, as well as the East Africa bloc. The goal is to create a new bloc for the African continent and send a message to the world that Egypt is the gateway to investment in Africa.
Ahmed Al-Wakil, Chairman of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, said that Qatar would attend the conference during which the government will lay out its efforts to improve investment infrastructure through legislation. Egypt’s economy currently suffers from difficulties due to faulty political and economic policies that have been in place for 30 years and their severity has increased during the political and security turmoil that struck Egypt over the past three years.
Salman stated that the government will display a package of legislative reforms by the Legislative Reform Committee in December which are expected to be approved by January 2015. Amendments pertain to all legislation in the area of economic activity.
“We are working to end 80% of investment disputes before the economic summit,” Salman said. He added that he expects the Omar Offendi department store dispute to be resolved soon as well and anticipates that the Saudi investor will not be able to international arbitration as Egypt and Saudi Arabia have a mutual agreement that prohibits this.
Commenting on the unified investment law, Salman said that his ministry is conducting discussions with all government agencies and ministries to review the majority of legislation regulating the economy, and the final word will be in the hands of the Legislative Reform Committee.
He stated that an agreement was made with the Minister of Industry to enact amendments to Part 11 of the industry law regulating procedure for exiting the market, but the “one-stop shop” investment law is still under consideration.
“The cabinet approved a law regulating investment in mineral resources on Wednesday and it will be approved by the president soon,” said Salman, adding that he expects engineering company Dar El-Handasa to finish establishing plans for the Suez Canal Axis before the end of February 2015.