Egypt, Austria trade exchange to reach €330m by end of 2022

Nehal Samir
10 Min Read

Egypt and Austria enjoy fruitful cooperative relations on different levels, especially in the economy. Bilateral economic and trade relations are enhancing day by day and are regulated by a number of agreements covering all fields.

Building on this great cooperation and aiming to bolster it, an Austrian delegation of 10 companies from the Water Sector headed by Austria’s Ambassador in Cairo Georg Stillfried and VP of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce Carmen Goby visited Cairo from 3 to 5 October to showcase how they can support the development of the Egyptian water and wastewater sector.

So, Daily News Egypt interviewed Goby and Commercial Counsellor Georg Krenn to learn more about the purpose of the visit and the economic relations between the two countries.

What distinguishes the economic relations between Egypt and Austria?

Egypt is one of Austria’s top business partners in Africa and the Middle East. Hundreds of Austrian companies export goods and services to Egypt and are involved in various projects all over the country. These companies active in Egypt are mostly SMEs and family-run businesses from Austria.

At the same time, there are multiple SMEs and family run business from Egypt that are exporting to Austria.

These relations have been going back a long time and were already started with the Suez Canal, where an Austrian engineer was active in the planning of the Suez Canal in the 1860s. Over the years, they have also aided in the implementation of other projects across the country, including in the soon to be inaugurated Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) and the New Administrative Capital (NAC).

What is the purpose of this visit? What are the expected outcomes?

The main purpose is to bolster relations between the two countries. Egypt suffers from water scarcity and Austrian companies have really good technical solutions that could help to alleviate some of the problems arising from that issue.

There are millions of people to feed, support, and serve with fresh and drinkable water. We could also help with establishing good water reusage cycles in all the farming and agriculture sectors. Furthermore, we can implement water desalination projects.

Our companies are quite innovative in this field, so we had a lot of meetings during the past few days with ministry officials, consultants, and contractors, and it was a very fruitful discussion and follow-up for our companies. I think we can build on the outcomes of these discussions.

What was the outcome of these discussions? Were there any agreements signed? Who are the officials that you met?

The purpose of the visit was to start a new era in the countries’ relations, study the market, discuss certain topics, figure out if there are other sectors — aside from water-related ones — that we can offer our services in, and follow-up on the companies doing work here.

No agreements were signed during this visit.

We met with a selection of the most important representatives from several ministries, authorities, and companies in the Egyptian water and wastewater sectors, including the Ministry of Housing, Utilities, and Urban Communities; the National General Contracting and Supplies Company; the Holding Company for Water & Wastewater (HCWW), the National Organisation for Potable Water and Sanitary Drainage; the Construction Authority for Potable Water and Wastewater; Arab Contractors, Hassan Allam, Elsewedy Electric, Orascom Construction Industries, AAW Consulting Engineers, and Sabbour Consulting.

In these high-level group meetings, Austrian companies were able to showcase their expertise and discuss joint collaborations.

What was the feedback from Austrian companies?

Austrian companies are very happy because they received insight into the country’s strategies and new plans, what is being targeted for the next few years, and what makes sense to invest in.

Are Austrian firms willing to invest more in Egypt?

Basically, there are a lot of companies putting Egypt on the map now, not just in trading but also in investment, but things have to work out first. And if things are working out on the project baseline, then many will be willing to go further.

This is what we’re discussing now, because a lot of projects are going well, but they are facing some obstacles, so we are discussing how we can remove these obstacles to effectively invest in the country.

What are the obstacles Austrian investors are facing? And how can we remove these obstacles?

The current import situation is a challenge also for Austrian companies and so sometimes it’s difficult to get raw material into the country, for instance. Also financing securities and delays of payments are obstacles.

You can overcome these problems by figuring out what really is the matter and what we can do on both sides to solve them, as some of them are business related while others are of a diplomatic or political type.

How can Egypt and Austria cooperate more in the fields of water and wastewater?

We are currently looking into desalination and reusing wastewater because we think that is what we can contribute to the most at the moment.

We are on call for really big projects. This trade mission aimed to showcase what our companies can do and how they can handle the tricky things that happen behind the scenes.

What are the other promising sectors in Egypt that Austrian companies are interested in working in?

I think we are interested in the industrial development of this country, transportation, and green technologies like the solar energy sectors, because Austrian companies are quite specialised in them. We can also add some value by providing some insights for instance in after-sales and farming processes.

What are the expected figures in terms of trade exchange between Egypt and Austria by the end of 2022?

Trade volume between Egypt and Austria in 2021 was over €300m, with Austria boasting an export value of €250m and importing products from Egypt at a value of €67m. Concerning this year figures, I expect Egypt, Austria trade exchange to reach €330m by end of 2022.

What are the main products being exchanged between the two countries?

Most of Egypt’s imports from Austria are industrial goods, machinery, and everything used for industry here. That’s why Austrian brands are not commonplace here, since most of our products are very special technical products used for instance in the railway, textile, and food production industries.

On the other hand, Egypt’s exports are more varied. Austria imports a lot of textiles, fruits, vegetables like potatoes, chemical goods and plastics, and small pre-fabrication materials that can be used in our industries.

What about the volume of investments by Austrian companies in Egypt?

The investment volume is currently €27m. It’s not really a big number yet, since we only have four companies that really produce in Egypt. The other companies are mostly for import purposes.


Because Austrian companies are always a bit conservative. Before they take a decision to invest in a market, they always want to be sure that it is the right environment for them.

Do they need specific requirements from the Egyptian government to invest more in the country?

For them, stability is the most important thing. So, they need to see a clear path and vision. For Austrian companies, it is very hard to make short-term decisions. We need long-term planning so that they can be assured that their investment will pay off on the long run.

In Egypt, decisions are taken very fast. Sometimes too fast for Austrians. We want to have the full business case and all eventualities regulated in a contract. We want to have everything on paper. We want to have it perfectly in place before we start. In Egypt, some projects start very quickly and shall finish as fast as possible, which is great. But for Austrians, that’s quite difficult, as we love planning.

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