Amidst Concerns Over Repression, Egypt Means Business
A delegation of U.S. companies recently completed a two-day visit to Egypt which was designed to explore possible investment opportunities for U.S. companies. The 60-company delegation was led by former ASP board member and former U.S. Ambassador David Thorne who now serves as Senior Advisor to the Secretary. The visit, which involved more than 150 U.S. executives, was coordinated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Department of State.
It is another step by the Sisi government to boost economic interest in the North African country ahead of next year’s “Friends of Egypt” investment conference. Several weeks ago Carbon Holdings, headed by Egyptian CEO Basil El-Baz, announced it would begin construction on a $7 billion petrochemical project.
President Sisi met with the business representatives and conveyed his vision for economic growth and reform. The visit came amidst concerns by analysts and NGOs that Egypt is experiencing its most severe repression in decades and that a business conference sends the wrong message about the priorities of the country.
Regarding the challenging political and economic climate, Gregori Lebedev, a senior member of the Chamber of Commerce told the Associated Press:
We know that prosperous economies are good for citizens wherever you are in the world. So anything that the American business community can do to stimulate a challenged economy will do nothing but benefit Egyptian citizens at large.
The visit by the delegation coincides with news that parliamentary elections will most likely be held in March of next year. Egypt has been without a parliament since the passage of the newest constitution of January 2014.