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Why invest in Egypt?

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt explain why investing in Egypt is the thing to do at the time.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in close partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, will lead nearly 50 American companies to Cairo this week in one of the largest business delegations in its history. Our message will be simple: Even as Egypt’s transition to democracy continues to unfold, the country remains open for business, and the international community has a stake in helping stabilize and grow its economy.

This is the third business delegation that the U.S. Chamber and AmCham Egypt have led to Cairo since 2011 because smart investment now—particularly in the country’s talented young people—can result in shared prosperity for Egypt and the global community.

American business engagement with Egypt is not new. For nearly 40 years, the United States and Egypt have had a strategic partnership that has yielded significant mutual benefits and has grown our commercial ties. Similar benefits have also been central to Egypt’s relationship with Europe.

Yet despite considerable progress, many development goals have yet to be fully realized. Even when its economy experienced growth, many Egyptians were left behind. Unemployment levels, especially for the young, remain painfully high today.

With a new Egyptian administration, the international community needs a new partnership with Egypt to spur job creation. At a time when the transition remains incomplete, and Egyptians are faced with rising insecurity, such an alliance offers the best prospect for Egypt to stabilize and expand rights and opportunities for all citizens. This will, no doubt, be a difficult challenge. But it can be done.

Our delegation will encourage the international community and the new Egyptian government to work together to speed assistance and promote international investment in Egypt.

In this regard, we are encouraged that the International Monetary Fund has renewed intensive discussions with Egypt on a stabilization package and that the United States government is working to hasten its own promise of nearly $1 billion of debt relief and budget support. But even if both of these packages are quickly delivered, it will still fall far short of Egypt’s requirements. Therefore, we urge the IMF to consider a larger, long-term package for Egypt on favorable terms that do not adversely impact Egypt’s most vulnerable.

We also urge the U.S. Congress to deliver more aid to Egypt, including fully relieving Egypt’s $3 billion debt, because forging a new partnership with Egypt is in America’s national security and economic interest.

Egypt’s neighbors, both in the Gulf and in Europe, meanwhile, must deliver promised aid, which is critical to security and stability in the region.

Over the long term, partnerships to advance Egypt’s private sector development remain vital to building our relationship with Egypt’s next generation and helping it achieve broad-based growth. Therefore the United States and Europe must expand Egypt’s access into their own markets by modernizing Europe’s existing free trade agreement and renewing discussions on a U.S-Egypt Free Trade Agreement. The international business community should also consider expanding investment and partnering with young Egyptian firms.

Of course, realizing Egypt’s full potential will depend first and foremost on the policies of the Egyptian government.

We look forward to engaging with new government leaders to hear their plans to strengthen good governance and the rule of law, restore security, and encourage private sector development. Steps of particular importance to the business community will include increasing Egypt’s regulatory transparency; streamlining bureaucracy and improving infrastructure; allowing all firms, including small and medium enterprises, to fairly compete; and reforming the education system to address the country’s current skills imbalance.

But even as the Egyptian government sets its economic policies, the international community must take immediate, concrete steps to help the country overcome its economic crisis.

Egypt is a leader of the Arab World and is critical to the stability of the region. If the country’s progress falters, the implications for the region—and for the global economy—could be severe. In contrast, Egyptian success can serve as a model for other transitioning countries.

We believe that Egypt has the necessary talent to succeed and to realize the true promise of the Arab Spring. The Egyptian government and the international community should act now to build on the momentum of this historic moment.