Dissecting AmCham’s U.S. Business Mission to Egypt

Sun, Oct. 28, 2018
CAIRO – 28 October 2018: With the leading 50 American companies from more than 15 industries present, the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham Egypt), in coordination with AmCham’s U.S.-Egypt Business Council and the Egypt-U.S. Business Council, held the U.S. Business Mission to Egypt between October 23-25, 2018.   The three-day event covered the U.S. corporates and their connections to the Egyptian community, financing opportunities and private sector engagement, the U.S.’s leading role in the international business world, the strong partnership between American businesses and Egypt and much more.   The mission’s came to Egypt to “underscore the continued commitment and unwavering support of the American business community to Egypt’s long-term stability and economic development; as well as to explore prospective business opportunities,” according to AmCham.   As per AmCham’s press release, American businesses have realised that the economic reforms that have been implemented in Egypt over the past few years, albeit tough, have started to work and have led to real results.   “Consequently, and as an outcome of this positive momentum, the Egypt-U.S. bilateral relationship has gradually been improving over the last three years. It is thus imperative at this point that U.S. decision-makers and businesses continue to develop a profound appreciation of the nature and scope of recent developments, and build a better understanding of Egypt’s economic and policy priorities. Many opportunities for furthering the bilateral economic relationship will be showcased during this Mission. Furthermore, the delegation will discuss recommendations as to how, given the support of the government, Egypt could witness increased investments and face any existing challenges,” according to the American Chamber of Commerce.   The American delegation was made up of: Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade, Sarah Kemp, as well as hundreds of experts and representatives from leading American businesses. The delegation also included senior representation from the United States Trade Development Agency (USTDA), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im).   Locally, a multitude of AmCham members and businessmen and businesswomen, as well as experts, academics and media personnel attended the three-day event.   Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly, as well as a number of ministers were also present at the event, namely: Minister of Public Business Sector Hisham Tawfik, Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait, Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform Hala el-Saeed, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Aly El-Mosalhy, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Waly, and Minister of State for Military Production Mohamed El-Assar.   Throughout the three-day event, the ministers, starting with Waly on October 23, and ending with Madbouly on October 25, gave speeches covering the importance of the American corporations and Egypt working together, on how to increase investment in Egypt, cutting poverty, increasing employment opportunities, and developing, particularly in the face of the current challenged facing Egypt.   Waly spoke of the important and development-positioned plans and programs that the Egyptian government has implemented since 2014, explaining that investment has increased due to the new programs and incentives available to investors. She also spoke about the government’s fight against poverty, their effort to put an end to unemployment and the positive steps they have taken to ensure that the business and investment atmospheres in Egypt are friendly and attractive.   “We need your business. We are a vibrant country, and this comes within Egypt and US’s historical and strategic partnership and relationship.”   In similar vein, Egyptian Minister of Communication and Information Technology stated that this makes Egypt a very capable partner in the business world, especially in playing a role in the international field of communications. Talaat explained that Egypt has a leading underwater communication network, making it the second largest country in the world to have such network.   Consequently, the minister explained, the country has been able to excel in the call cell industry, which is primarily lead by India, due to its leading technology, as well its ability to hire first-grade individuals for work. This is aided by the fact that Egyptians poses a high talent for learning languages.   The communication sector has grown by 3.5%, from previous years’ 1.5% to 5% this year, making it the perfect partner for U.S. companies, the minister explained.   Likewise, the presidency also spoke of the importance of the cooperation between Egypt and the U.S.; Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said in statement, “The cooperation between Egypt and the US contributed to Egypt becoming at the top of the list of African countries and the second in the Middle East in trade volume with the US.”   The American Chargé d’Affaires, Thomas H. Goldberger, also spoke of the great partnership between the American companies and Egyptians, saying that American companies are the leading ones worldwide, “It goes almost without saying that American companies are the finest in the world. Their scale is global and they have played a pivotal leadership role in the success of the global economy over the past 70 years. American corporate leadership in building global prosperity is ongoing as a brief look at the performance of American markets and current economic statistics will show you.”   American companies do not simply take business from communities, they also give back, explained Goldberger, “One thing that stands out about American companies, and, I believe, that distinguishes them from competitors around the world, is the effort they make wherever they are to be good corporate citizens and to contribute to the long term success and thriving of societies in which they invest and in which they operate.”   He continued, “American companies bring investment and create employment. In providing the best products to consumers at the best prices, they do so with an eye to the future and to the long-term interests both of the companies themselves and the societies and economies that host them. They bring the best technology and innovative processes for applying technology to work; they strive for diversity in the workforce and promote and advance talented employees based on merit and accomplishment; they protect the environment and minimize their environmental footprint; they promote strong ethical values of responsibility and transparency; and they do all this in a spirit of service to the customer and to society as a whole.”   “The United States strongly values and actively promotes this high standard of corporate citizenship and social responsibility, one that comes naturally to American companies. In addition to strong business practices, American companies strive to “give back” to their local host communities. It’s good business and it’s good citizenship whether in the United States or overseas.”   The partnership between Egypt and the U.S. companies are great for locals and Egypt, as well as the global presence of the companies, he explained, “U.S. companies doing business in Egypt are making substantial impacts in local communities through a variety of social engagement programs and projects. There are many examples of this and doubtless many more than I know about, but I want to highlight a handful that have come to my attention.”   Overall, as the American Chambers of Commerce puts it, “This visit comes at a period when Egypt has gone through tough yet successful economic reform measures. These measures have contributed to increasing the level of economic growth to reach 5.2%, the highest reported during the last seven years. Additionally, the country has witnessed an elevated level of investments in infrastructure and energy projects. These projects are set to pave the way for increased private sector investments; providing the basic tools for expansion of activities, coupled with a pro-business legislative reform agenda. Egypt is also on the cusp of becoming the Middle East’s energy hub, given the major oil and gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western desert, which were announced during the past few months.   Moreover, International Financial institutions including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), The World Bank, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and several others have praised Egypt’s performance. As a result, Egypt’s credit ratings were elevated by most international agencies including Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, reflecting broader confidence in the reforms that took place.”