The $5bn Egyptian opportunity

Fred P Hochberg
6 Min Read

This past week, I visited Cairo and met with President Al-Sisi to discuss investments of $4bn to $5bn in Egyptian infrastructure.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM Bank) is eager to consider financing for US exports to Egypt, which have the potential to catalyse the country’s economic growth, and growing cadre of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Projects in Egypt – led by both the private sector and the government – offer opportunities in energy, petrochemicals, rail, aircraft, and ports, for which US companies want to compete.

All this, quite simply, translates into more jobs for Egyptians.

EXIM Bank is the official export credit agency of the United States. We offer financing in the forms of export credit insurance so Egyptian buyers can purchase on open account, loan guarantees, and direct loans to support partnerships between small, medium, and large US exporters and buyers of every size in Egypt and around the globe.

Right now, EXIM Bank is receiving more inquiries about doing business in Egypt than at any time in our recent history.  And, while these projects will help build Egypt’s future infrastructure, our short-term financing has already facilitated increased trade through the Egyptian banking sector. Egyptian companies’ ability to acquire high quality US goods and services, in turn, contribute to continued job growth in Egypt.

This means more opportunities, not only for US companies, but for the Egyptian economy.

For example, Egypt’s Carbon Holdings plans to finance the Tahrir Petrochemicals project by tapping multiple export credit agencies, including EXIM Bank. The $7.6bnproject will create economic opportunities for Egyptians and unite the resources of a number of countries – including the US – toward a partnership for a sustainable future and more private sector jobs in Egypt.

In its power sector, Egypt has set ambitious requirements for new power generation capacity and has several programme initiatives underway in gas-fired and renewable energy projects. In 2015, EXIM Bank’s Board of Directors approved a multi-billion dollar preliminary commitment to the national utility in support of a US exporter’s bid to construct power plants in Egypt.

These developments mean Egypt will continue to need faster and more efficient transportation to connect to local and global markets.  Egyptian National Railways – a long-time purchaser of US-made locomotives – is looking to upgrade its railcars and locomotives.  While a number of other countries are competing to win ENR’s business, EXIM has already approved an initial commitment of nearly $300m in financing for a sale of US locomotives to ENR.  The planned increase in rail capacity moves people and goods more rapidly and relieves congestion on heavily trafficked roads in Cairo and throughout Egypt.

And, as Egypt continues to engage in an increasingly interconnected world, it will need new, efficient, well-maintained aircraft.  Over the last decade, EXIM Bank financed more than 10 Boeing 737-800 aircrafts for Egypt Air, connecting Egypt to the world on some of the most modern, most comfortable, most fuel-efficient, and most versatile aircrafts.  Not only does this mean Egyptians can travel quickly and efficiently for business, it also offers tourists greater access to Egypt’s rich culture and history on a modern, networked fleet.

In our challenging world, however, more travel means a greater need for technologies that will keep air and seaports safe.  As Egypt’s government and private sector leaders work to expand port capacity, US companies provide world-class goods and services in dredging, engineering, and safety technology.

Collectively, these opportunities represent the “Egypt Opportunity”, and I was honoured to end my visit to Egypt by meeting with President Al-Sisi to talk about future collaboration that is of mutual benefit to both of our countries.

As I said to President Al-Sisi, I am proud of EXIM Bank’s historic commitment to the Egyptian public and private sectors – from 1947 through the present day – and I look forward to continuing to support US exports to your country. I am confident that those US goods will play a critical role in enabling Egypt’s economic growth.

I look forward to building on projects like these – transformational projects that can contribute to Egypt’s economic growth and create employment opportunities for Egypt, as well as building Egypt’s infrastructure through aviation, transportation, and clean energy projects that will weave together the fabric of Egypt’s future.

Fred P Hochberg is the chairman and president of the US Export and Import Bank.

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