The Swiss Egyptian Business Association (SEBA) and the Swiss embassy are planning to organize a trade mission to Switzerland to promote investment in Egypt, said Marwa Taher, the SEBA executive director, noting that the mission will take place in 2019.
Taher added that the economic relations between Switzerland and Egypt are outstanding in terms of quality, mentioning, “Switzerland is the 12th biggest investor in Egypt and more than 100 Swiss companies are established in the country.”
The Swiss companies see a better performance in the Egyptian economy and great potential exists in the area of infrastructure development, real estate, and construction, said Taher.
Daily News Egypt sat down for an exclusive interview with Taher, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
Do you plan to host Egyptian ministers or officials in 2018?
We target officials and ministers from different sectors and we plan to organise seminars and networking events to host keynote speakers from the tourism, banking, trade and industry, and taxation sectors.
How many members does SEBA include? Do you have any plans to increase members?
We have a total 140 members that we work hard to retain and recruit new members to help grow the SEBA. We plan to offer more benefits programmes, committees, networking events, education seminars, and communications. Our members’ engagement is the key to our success and growth, and we have a plan to make sure that the SEBA members get a thorough understanding of everything the SEBA offers.
What is SEBA’s meetings timetable? Do you meet regularly?
The SEBA’s board of directors meets regularly, and we plan to have regular networking and breakfast meetings for our members to cultivate business relationships and build a feeling of familiarity within the SEBA community. We organise seminars with the government institutions to connect our members with the decision makers to discuss their needs and challenges and to provide suggestions.
The SEBA’s highlight is the yearly the SEBA Business Awards Gala Dinner that takes place once a year The awards showcase individuals, companies, and organisations who have achieved distinct results and demonstrated the highest level of commitment to the Swiss-Egyptian business community.
How do Swiss companies assess Egyptian business climate now? What problems do they face, as well as what are their recommendations for government?
The economic relations between Switzerland and Egypt are outstanding in terms of quality. Switzerland is the 12th biggest investor in Egypt, and more than 100 Swiss companies are established in the country. The Swiss companies see a better performance in the Egyptian economy, and great potential exists in the area of infrastructure development and real estate/construction. The New Investment Law came into force in 2017 bringing new features to the investment climate in order increase Egypt’s competitiveness in the region.
For Swiss companies, there are still open questions regarding the request of registration for companies, the request for pre-shipment inspections, the requirements for the proof of origin, customs, and importing documentations, although the reforms are beginning to bear fruit and confidence in the Egyptian economy is increasing.
As for the bilateral trade between Switzerland and Egypt, in 2017 it reached CHF 1.2bn ($1.2bn).
What economic sectors are Swiss companies interested in?
The Swiss companies can see business opportunities in many sectors, mainly logistics, construction and infrastructure, manufacturing industry/machines (focus on textile), agriculture, and information technology.
What about bilateral business missions from both countries in 2017, future ones in 2018?
In coordination with the Swiss embassy in Egypt, we organised the SEBA Business Awards in 2017, aligned with the visit of Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, the Swiss state secretary for economic affairs. Both Ineichen-Fleisch and Egyptian minister of investment and international cooperation, Sahar Nasr attended the SEBA Gala Dinner in December 2017 in the presence of the Swiss Ambassador to Egypt Paul Garnier, the SEBA board of directors and officials, as well as Swiss and Egyptian investors.
During her visit, Ineichen-Fleisch witnessed the launch of the Egyptian-Swiss Cooperation Strategy for 2017-2020 in the presence of Nasr.
We are planning in coordination with the Swiss embassy to organise a trade mission to Switzerland to promote investment in Egypt. The mission will take place in 2019.
What are updates of SEBA’s CSR activities? What are your plans in this regard?
We announced in 2017 our plan to support disabilities for the year 2018, and with the support of our members, we have organised three fundraising events. We have also participated as supporters to the CSR forum and the fingerprint summit. We are currently discussing with Misr El Kheir and CSR Forum the possibilities to develop the vocational training and employment for people with disabilities.