French-Egyptian Business Forum to be held in November at SCZone: Business France

Daily News Egypt
7 Min Read
Director of Business France Egypt Phillipe Garcia

The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in November this year in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone), according to Phillippe Garcia, Director of Business France Egypt.

Garcia also said that French investment stocks in Egypt amount to $2.4bn, and that there are 4,500 French companies exporting to Egypt on a regular basis. Of these companies, 160 of them are operating in Egypt through their own subsidiaries. 

“From 6 to 9 December, Business France will organise ‘The French Healthcare Days’ event, with a special focus on the French hospital excellence,” he added, “That event is expected to bring 15 French companies to exchange with private and public sectors about potential partnerships.”   

Daily News Egypt sat down with Garcia to learn more about the direction that French businesses are set to take, and their strategies in the Egyptian market in the coming period.

How do you see Egypt’s investment climate and potential?

Egypt’s business climate has improved a lot since 2016, with the implementation of the economic reforms programme, and the way the Egyptian Government has dealt with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Now in mid-2021, Egypt is eyed with both a huge domestic market and a privileged destination for foreign investors. In addition, the potential is huge, as we believe there will be strong opportunities within the policy led by the Government and initiatives taken by the private sector aiming at developing local resources, such as agro-industry, manufacturing industry, tourism, and energy.

Otherwise, Egypt could move very fast towards a new economic model, focusing more on the digital and involving new technologies such as hydrogen, and artificial intelligence (AI) with so many applications.     

Do you expect more French foreign direct investments (FDIs) into Egypt in the coming period?

We intend to continue promoting Egypt as a strategic market for the French economy, both for investors and for exporters. 

Could you elaborate on the volume of French FDIs in Egypt, and in what sectors are they focused?

France is currently Egypt’s eighth largest foreign investor, but as mentioned by our Minister of Finance Bruno Le Maire during his last visit to Egypt, France’s objective is to soon be in the top three.

French investments in Egypt are very diversified and cover the main sectors of the economy, namely: energy; construction and industry; distribution; agro-industry; financial services; telecommunications, among others. I believe our future investments in Egypt could be focused on new technologies, and France could be the country’s main partner in its economic evolution.    

In your opinion, what are the most promising sectors for French companies and businesses?

Let me just make one suggestion, which is not as futile as it could seem to be. Beyond the traditional sectors of energy, infrastructures, industry, and the like, I think there is space end expectations in Egypt for the French fashion industry.

Some Egyptians are wealthy and educated consumers, but most of them are still buying abroad when Egypt, Cairo especially, is a premium market. I am convinced that many high-end and/or accessible luxury brands from the French fashion industry would find great success in Egypt!

A new area for fashion products in Cairo would attract new investments, create new jobs, generate new ways of training, and create an element of emulation among the community of young talented Egyptian designers.       

What are the main challenges that still prevent French companies and private sector entities from investing in Egypt? What are your recommendations to attract more French companies to Egypt?

We are expecting a lot from the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone). Beyond Egypt having a domestic market of 100 million people, the country as a regional hub for exportation towards Africa and the GCC countries will soon become a reality that we could no longer ignore.   

Shall we expect new cooperation between Egyptian and French companies in the health sector?

Yes, of course. From 6 to 9 December, Business France will organise The French Healthcare Days with a special focus on French hospital excellence. That event is expected to encourage 15 French companies to exchange views with the private and public sectors about potential partnerships.   

Additionally, shall we expect a French business delegation visit to Egypt soon?

One week before The French Healthcare Days, we’ll be organising the Suez Canal Business Meetings, which will be held in Ismailia during the Suez Canal Economic Forum. We are expecting the participation of at least 20 French companies profiled to meet the new needs of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) in digitalisation, traffic control and management, security, and the like. We really want to develop bilateral partnerships between French companies, the SCA and its main contractors and integrators.

How do you see Egypt’s economic development after the economic reform programme?

This is a privileged moment for Egypt. It’s one of few countries which registered a GDP growth in 2020 after leading its policy of “continuity of economic activity coexisting with the virus”, and the perspectives are good.

Soon Egypt will fully recover from the COVID-19 crisis with GDP growth rates expected to return to 5-6% by 2022. During the lockdown period in France, Business France Egypt dedicated time with French companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to inform and guide them towards the most strategic and promising international markets.         

What is the value of French investments in Egypt? How many French companies operate in Egypt?

French investment stocks in Egypt amount to $2.4bn. Furthermore, 4,500 French companies are exporting to Egypt on a regular basis, and 160 of them are operating in Egypt through their own subsidiaries. 

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