Industrial production must reach $250bn to meet export goals: ECS

Daily News Egypt
3 Min Read

Yahya Elwathik Bellah, Minister Plenipotentiary and First Undersecretary-Head of the Egyptian Commercial Service (ECS), emphasised the need to boost industrial production to $250bn to achieve Egypt’s export target of around $100bn.

Speaking at the “Egypt’s Food and Agro Blueprint with Focus on Food Safety” seminar during the Food Africa 2023 exhibition, Elwathik Bellah reported that Egypt’s industrial output reached $85.08bn, with exports accounting for $35bn, or 40% of the total production capacity.

He highlighted the local challenges faced by Egypt’s food industry sector, including limited water resources, scarce agricultural land, and the high costs associated with expanding arable land.

Elwathik Bellah also noted that Egypt is a net food importer, relying on imports for about 60% of its food requirements—a figure that is on the rise.

The sector is grappling with the rising costs of energy and raw materials like wheat, sugar, and fodder, which directly impact food production costs and lead to higher end-product prices.

Regionally, Egyptian exports face stiff competition from neighboring countries, such as Turkey and the European Union nations.

Globally, food exports are valued at approximately $1.085trn, with the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and China being the leading exporters.

Climate change poses another significant challenge, causing price volatility for staple food commodities. Additionally, new laws, standards, and certifications related to food safety in Europe, America, Asia, and the Arab Gulf countries are influencing the sector.

Elwathik Bellah stressed the importance of addressing these challenges to enhance Egypt’s food manufacturing capabilities. This includes improving transportation and storage infrastructure, standardizing specifications, fostering research and development, and adopting modern technologies. He pointed out that the lack of standardized food product specifications hampers Egypt’s ability to export to international markets.

Over the first 10 months of 2023, Egypt’s food industry exports reached $4.253bn, a 14% increase from $3.716bn in the same period of 2022. The primary importers of Egyptian food products include Saudi Arabia, Libya, the United States, Palestine, Sudan, Jordan, Yemen, and Algeria.

Egypt’s agricultural exports also saw growth, reaching $3.1bn within the same 10-month span, up 19% from $2.6bn in 2022. Key importing countries are Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the Netherlands, the UK, Syria, Germany, and Turkey.

Elwathik Bellah underscored the strategic importance of leveraging Egypt’s trade agreements, such as the partnership with the European Union, the Greater Arab Free Trade Area Agreement with Arab nations, and the Generalized System of Preferences with the United States, which permits duty-free entry for certain Egyptian food exports. Additionally, Egypt benefits from free trade agreements with Turkey, the AFTA countries, and the COMESA agreement with East African nations.

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