Basil El-Baz, Chairman and CEO of Carbon Holdings, spoke out in support of the reauthorization of the ExIm Bank and a free trade agreement (FTA) between the African continent and the U.S at yesterday’s U.S-Africa Business Forum CEO Discussion.
The Ex-Im Bank, which operates at a profit to tax payers, provides loan guarantees to foreign purchasers of American goods and services as well as credit insurance to domestic companies looking to hedge against the risk of default. Though every developed nation has a functioning export-import bank, members of Congress have threatened to allow the Bank’s charter to expire at the end of September.
Almost 90% of the ExIm Bank’s transactions in the last fiscal year involved small to medium sized businesses and financed $37.4 billion in exports. The Bank authorized $604 million in exports to Sub-Saharan Africa alone, and has pledged an additional $5 billion to the continent over the next five years in support of President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative.
Dismantling the institution has the potential to cripple the competitive abilities of both large and small American companies, and locking US companies out of the emerging markets in Africa where China, Japan, and the EU already have strong influence.
In his introduction, El-Baz discussed the evolution of his own organization from a student run start-up to multi-billion dollar corporation, made possible by the approval of a grant for a feasibility study and financial support from the ExIm Bank. Voting against the reauthorization of the ExIm Bank, he said, is voting against development in Africa. El-Baz’s remarks were met with spirited applause from the audience and support from the other business leaders on the panel.
While there are a number of bilateral trade agreements between African nations including Cameroon, Egypt, Senegal, and Rwanda and the US, only one FTA exists- between Morocco and the United States. El-Baz argued the Africa Summit should have included the expansion of the Moroccan FTA to include all present African Nations with a newly minted title- The African-U.S Free Trade Agreement.
Carbon Holdings Chairman and CEO – Basil El-Baz
Basil El-Baz is the Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Carbon Holdings. He has successfully developed and financed two major industrial greenfield projects in Egypt; Egypt Basic Industries Corporation (“EBIC”) and Egypt Hydrocarbon Corporation (“EHC”). EBIC represents and still is the only project to receive a comprehensive loan guarantee from the Export – Import Bank of the United States. Furthermore, EBIC is one of a select number of projects in Egypt to be financed entirely by consortium of international banks. The project has an approximate value of US$650 million. Carbon Holdings’ second project, EHC, with a transaction value of approximately US$500 million is widely considered as the first major industrial project to close in post-revolution Egypt. Construction of the second project commenced in August 2011 with commercial operation scheduled to commence during the fourth quarter of 2014. In December 2012, Carbon Holdings concluded its US$114 million acquisition of the Egyptian polypropylene producer, Oriental Petrochemicals Company (“OPC”).
Carbon Holdings is developing a US$6.75 billion Naphtha Cracker and Polyethylene Complex project named Tahrir Petrochemicals that is currently in an advanced stage of financing. The project is anticipated of being financed entirely by the Export – Import Bank of the United States, the Export – Import Bank of Korea, the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation and SACE, the export credit agency of Italy. Mr. El-Baz is a graduate of Harvard University.