Egypt, the world’s largest Arab nation, is making significant strides towards reinventing its role in the global community. Responding immediately to ISIS violence in Libya, Egypt has given itself the responsibility of maintaining stability in its neighboring states. It has also been the first voice to call for a Joint Arab Coalition. Now, Egypt is embarking on bold and ambitious economic reforms designed to attract substantial investment and spur development.
The draft of a new investment law was approved by Egypt’s cabinet last week. The legislation was the result of a joint effort led by investors, industry representatives, legal experts and government officials working to improve Egypt’s obstacles to economic development. The creation and implementation of this legislation has been timed to pave the way for a major investment conference to be held later this month. Egyptian officials believe that this conference could garner as much as $12 billion in new investments.
Bureaucracy has long stood in the way of Egypt’s economic potential and realization. Previously, an aspiring entrepreneur or foreign business entity would require permits from dozens of agencies throughout a process that could take up to five years. New reforms proposed under the current legislation will streamline this process and greatly reduce the extent of bureaucratic redundancy.
Other provisions in the bill are clearly intended to reassure investors and enhance Egypt’s appeal to new business ventures. A collection of government guarantees and incentives will further encourage new projects and business operations. Also, the law reforms methods of redress and designation of responsibility in situations where legal actions may be necessary.
The IMF has predicted that Egyptian economic growth will more than double in the coming years. This prediction pales in comparison to the goals of Egypt’s Planning Minister Ashraf al-Arabi who wants to attract $60 billion of investment over the next four years and reduce unemployment below 10 percent (unemployment in Egypt currently stands at about 13 percent).
Egypt is declaring its role as an economic and military cornerstone of the Middle East and Northern Africa. It seeks greater inclusion in regional and global affairs. As it works towards these ends, other nations will take note of Egypt’s potential. There is considerable opportunity for investment in business initiatives, financial markets and energy production. Egypt will endeavor to prove itself a vital ally in the War on Terror and the stabilization of Libya. It is clearly evident that Egypt is shaping its future in a manner that will ensure growing influence and increased occasions for global cooperation.
The Egypt Economic Development Conference begins later this week and will be attended by world leaders and global investors.
Image Credit: Khalid Almasoud