Last week, the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt introduced the new U.S. Ambassador, Stephen Beecroft, to an audience that filled every seat in the Four Seasons massive ballroom in Cairo. It was a memorable lunch for all of us in the room. Listening to Ambassador Beecroft address over 500 members from the private sector, I could not help but be reminded, once again, of how strong the commercial bridge is between the U.S. and Egypt.
While in recent years relations between our countries have been strained, the economic progress that has been driven by the private sector and important reforms by the Sisi administration has preserved and strengthened these important ties. In November of last year, a record trade delegation brought 70 U.S. corporate leaders to Egypt to witness the renewed economic optimism and improved stability. And it was just over one month ago that 2,000 delegates from 112 nations, including 30 heads of state and many corporate leaders, attended the Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC). Over $60 billion was pledged in new investments that firmly repositioned Egypt on the global investment map.
The EEDC presented 120 projects spread across eight industry sectors, the majority of which were concentrated in energy and mining, infrastructure and real estate. The rush to commit speaks for itself. BP, Siemens and General Electric led the multi-national investors with a collective $25 billion of commitments. Other pledges included:
- Coca Cola will spend $500 million to increase manufacturing, distribution, sales and marketing capabilities;
- Majid Al Futtaim, the mall developer, pledged $700 million to develop 8 malls in Egypt over the next five years;
- Emirati Mohamed Alabbar will spend $3 billion to develop residential housing on the North Coast, a project that will create 14,00 jobs;
- Aviation Industry of China will finance and operate a $700 million electric train from Alexandria to Abu Qir;
- Italian oil conglomerate Eni signed an agreement to invest $5 billion over the coming five years;
- PepsiCo will invest $500 million to expand its Egyptian operations this year, and Beyti, the milk and juice company it owns with Al- Marai, has pledged $525 to build a new factory;
- Real estate developers plan over $30 billion for New Cairo and 6 October City projects; and
- Orascom plans to build a 3,000-megawatt coal-fired plant, and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power has committed $3 billion toward a power plant
These projects are in addition to the Second Suez Canal and the Suez Canal Area Development Projects. The two Suez projects will construct a new Suez Canal and transform several cities along the waterway and importantly, create hundreds of thousands of jobs. It took the government less than one week to raise an unprecedented $8.5 billion from private citizens to fund the projects.
All of this interest and enthusiasm points to the fact that investors see and understand the real investment opportunities. And they are not waiting. They know that the sooner capital is put to work, the chances of success are enhanced. Once the projects materialize, more jobs will be created, and the quicker the turnaround will take. As U.S. Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryBiden's second-ranking climate diplomat stepping down A presidential candidate pledge can right the wrongs of an infamous day Equilibrium/Sustainability — Dam failures cap a year of disasters MORE told all of us at Sharm, “Egypt has always had an extraordinary business corps. Egypt has great capacity. And it has been there for the hub of thinking, of progress, of energy, of direction in this region. It has always, in my judgment, had the ability to demonstrate entrepreneurial energy.”
Next week, a 40-member delegation from AmCham Egypt will cross the bridge in the other direction for its Annual DoorKnock Mission in Washington. Private sector leaders from banking and finance, energy, capital markets, real estate, technology, tourism, telecom and agriculture will meet with members of Congress, administration officials, think-tanks, and leaders from the business community to highlight Egypt’s recent economic developments, reforms and the wave of increased investments. Over the weeklong mission we will lay out Egypt’s economic roadmap that was presented at the EEDC and shed light on the macroeconomic, legislative and socio-economic advances since our mission last June. We will also give updates on individual sectors, with a look at specific policies both governments can enact to enhance bilateral trade and promote U.S. investment in Egypt.
Over the years, our delegation has earned the trust and credibility of U.S. political and business leaders, who deeply value our candid perspective and profound understanding of significant issues and the Egyptian market environment. As we cross the bridge to Washington next week, our message is clear: in a region tarnished by political and social upheaval and complexity, Egypt is an oasis in the midst of a scary desert. We are grateful for the support of our long-time friends in the U.S. and the contributions they have, and continue to make, to our great country.
Aclimandos serves as president of the Board of The American Chamber of Commerce Egypt. He is also president of Transcentury Associates, a U.S. private international consulting firm located in Bethesda, Maryland and Cairo that provides technical and management consulting services for development projects worldwide. Its clients include foreign governments, U.S. and international private firms, non-governmental organizations, USAID, the World Bank, the European Union and international donors.